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Kirkwhelpington; The Fawns Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Sawnes; Pele of Sawns; Fawnes

In the civil parish of Kirkwhelpington.
In the historic county of Northumberland.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.
Medieval County of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NZ00728534
Latitude 55.16262° Longitude -1.99050°

Kirkwhelpington; The Fawns Castle has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House, and also as a probable Bastle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The moated site at Fawns is exceptionally well preserved and is one of few surviving examples in Northumberland. The site displays a wide range of features including associated buildings on the internal island. The re-entrant of the ditch at the north-east corner indicates the existence of an earlier phase of settlement.
The monument includes a medieval moated site situated adjacent to the present farm. The moated site is roughly rectangular in shape with a rounded northern end, and is orientated north-west to south-east; it measures 120m by 95m within a broad flat bottomed ditch 6m wide. There is a large stoney external bank which stands to 1.8m above the bottom of the ditch and an internal bank standing to 1.2m above the bottom of the ditch. The internal bank has been faced with roughly coursed stonework. The interior of the moated site contains the remains of at least four slightly raised rectangular building platforms situated on the western side of the enclosure, and traces of several associated enclosure walls. The largest building platform is 25m by 10m and is thought to be the site of the bastle known to exist at Fawns in 1541. The entrance to the moated site is in the north-west corner where a deep hollow way enters the enclosure. An interesting feature of this monument is the curious bend or re-entrant in the surrounding ditch at the north-east corner of the moated site; this is suggestive of an earlier structure on the site. The earliest mention of Fawns in documentary sources is in a reference to John de Fawnes in 1303, and Fawns is again recorded in 1421 as a part of the manor of Wallington. At the southern end of the site are at least two rectangular hollowed out enclosures, one lies within the moated site at the south-west corner while the other is a later feature attached to the southern end of the site; these are thought to be the sites of fishponds. (Scheduling Report)

The Fawns: A moated medieval manorial site, contained by a broad ditch, nearly rectangular in shape. The interior, partially marred by quarrying, contains four slightly raised rectangular building platforms and traces of enclosure walls, now turf covered. There is a hollow way entrance to the north-west. The re-entrant formed by the ditch to the north may be suggestive of an earlier structure but ploughing has obliterated any feature that may have existed. The rectangular excavation or pond to the south is apparently late, and the slight ditch to the south east may be no more than an old field boundary. A John de Fawnes is mentioned in 1303, and there was a little pelehouse or Bastel at Fawns on 1541 (Jobey 1961).
Fawns (Sawns) Pele, mentioned in list of 1541. May have stood on the site of the farm (Long 1967).

At the Sawnes is a lytle pele house or bastell of thinherytaunce of the said Sr John Fenwyke in measurable good rep'ac'ons (1541 survey)

Marked as 'Manorial Earthworks' on the OS map but seemingly a farmstead and township within the manor of Wallington so actually might be considered a large homestead moat. Although 1541 is early for a pele house type bastle the specific mention of this as a 'pele house' may well suggest that form of house rather than the larger type of bastle.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:10

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