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West Whelpington Peel House

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: NY97538380
Latitude 55.14844° Longitude -2.04040°

West Whelpington Peel House has been described as a Pele Tower although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a probable Bastle.

There are no visible remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Between 2000 and 3000 years ago, during what archaeologist call the Iron Age, people created an enclosure at West Whelpington surrounded by a wooden fence. This may have been a settlement, or it may have been a stock enclosure. People certainly lived at West Whelpington approximately 1500 years ago, during what archaeologists call the early medieval or Anglo-Saxon period. Archaeologists have found pieces of pottery, a post hole and a drain dating from this time. Around 500 years later, the village of West Whelpington had at least 25 houses, and possibly a tower house. By 1720 West Whelpington was a deserted medieval village. Today, the site of the village has been destroyed by quarrying. (Keys to the Past)

The excavated site of a pre-12th century to 1720 settlement, now destroyed by quarrying. Excavation revealed pottery dating from the 12th to the 18th century, seven Saxon sherds, a 13th century coin, three 17th century coins, a corroded bronze coin and a probable Iron Age palisaded trench. The remains of a pele tower were recorded on the site in the 19th century, but no such structure was positively identified during excavation. (PastScape)

The village of West Whelpington stood proudly on the northern margin of the Wansbeck, on an elevated plain, which slopes gently towards the east, and is defended on all sides, and especially on the south, by a whinstone precipice. It was of an oblong form, about 440 yards long, and consisted of two rows of houses inclosing a large town green, near the centre of which a small circle probably points out the site of its cock-pit, near which has stood a peel house, about 23.5 by 21.5 feet in the inside, having very thick walls, and a sort of yard or barmekin in front, apparently the only little fortified habitation which the place could ever boast of. (Hodgson 1827)

Hodgson is clear in calling this a 'peel house' not a pele tower. It seems the later writers in the archaeological databases have not appreciated the difference between pele-houses (now usual called bastles) and pele towers. A rereading of the excavation reports with a wider appreciation of the use of the term 'peel' may be informative (It should be noted that while most of the site was excavated the houses nearest the cock-pit were not excavated. The village was made of long houses showing later modification to separate the byre and living room. A pele-house bastle could be seen as another way to achieve this separation.)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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