The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Wooler Tower

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NT99292809
Latitude 55.54661° Longitude -2.01286°

Wooler Tower has been described as a certain Pele Tower.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The 16th century, like the centuries before, was a troubled time for Wooler with cross Border strife becoming endemic, frequently at a local level. It was a town in need of protection. A 1509 garrison list for the English Borders notes that 20 soldiers were maintained at Wooler (Vickers 1922, 329-30). And the perceived threat of warfare with Scotland prompted the building of a defensive tower. The exact date of its construction is unknown; the 1509 list might imply that it was already in existence, but it may not have been built before the period of great anxiety following the Battle of Flodden in 1513. In 1526, the tower was still referred to as the 'new castle' (ibid). A survey of the Borders in 1541 described the tower as a "mervelous convenyent place for the defence of the country thereabout" and as still "standing strongly" (Vickers 1922, 329). Certainly in 1545, the tower and its garrison were still a part of the organised defences of the area, shown as such by Christopher Dacre in his plan of the Border defences (Vickers 1922, 329-30) and the tower is again shown on the prospect of the town made in the second half of the 16th century. All that survives today is three masses of pink-sandstone masonry held together by mortar (Vickers 1922, 329-0). Of the three blocks, one may still be in-situ (Ryder 1994, 24). The visible area of faced walling is uninterrupted by openings or any other distinguishable features. Whether the fall of the tower was a result of intentional demolition, decay or instability is uncertain. (Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey)

Despite the fragmentary nature of the remains of Wooler Tower and the erection of a war memorial, the mound has not been greatly disturbed and significant archaeological remains will survive beneath the ground surface. It was an important link in the chain of border defences in the 16th century and will contribute to any study of defences at this time.
This monument includes the remains of a medieval tower of early 16th century date situated on a prominent mound. There are steep slopes on the north and east, where it falls to Wooler Water. The tower survives as three large blocks of masonry, one of which, a mass of core material, is believed to lie in situ. A block lying near a modern war memorial is a section of the corner of the tower with walls 1.5m thick; the walling is faced with large blocks of sandstone. To the east of these remains are traces of a slight earthwork platform. The mound on which these fragments lie is believed to be natural, rather than artificial, but is the probable site of a 12th century castle with timber defences which belonged to the Muschamps. Documentary evidence records that it was disused by 1255 and the site was not reoccupied until the tower was built in the early 16th century. The tower is first mentioned in 1509 and in 1526 was referred to as the 'new castle'. It was built in reaction to disturbances on the English-Scottish border and became an important link in the chain of forts featured in a plan of border defences drawn up by Christopher Dacre in 1584. (Scheduling Report)

A small tower built on a long abandoned castle site and, therefore, separated from Wooler Castle by a gap of a couple of hundred years and a building of quite different social status.
It should be noted that the 1509 survey was a proposal of the size of garrison the tower could accommodate not a statement of the size of an existing garrison. 20 men is the minimum number of men for all the towers and suggests a small tower. The 1541 survey records the little tower standing strong but half fallen down and again as a possible site for a garrison not the location of an active garrison. The 1584 report by Christopher Dacre does not state that the tower was part of the defences of the area but that it could be made so at the cost of £60 for repairs and would be fit and convenient for a small number. There is, in fact, no evidence that this small tower was ever anything other than a residential house, probably let out, although clearly it could have been adapted for use as a centre for a small garrison.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling        
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact