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 

Hamsterley Castles

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
The Castles; Harthope Castle

In the civil parish of South Bedburn.
In the historic county of Durham.
Modern Authority of Durham.
1974 county of County Durham.
Medieval County of County Palatinate of Durham.

OS Map Grid Reference: NZ10353307
Latitude 54.69257° Longitude -1.84094°

Hamsterley Castles has been described as a Uncertain but is rejected as such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The Castle at South Bedburn is the remains of a large stone-built enclosure. It is surrounded by a large dry-stone rubble wall. Although no firm date can be given to the site it seems likely that the structure was built sometime in the 5th to 7th centuries AD by a local king who still wanted Roman-style military forts but lacked the technological skills to construct a true fort. Other possible uses have included that of a Roman (AD43 to 410) camp for workers in lead mines in Weardale. The find of an Iron Age (800BC to AD43) quern stone, in association with the site may also mean that the site has an Iron Age origin. (Keys to the Past)

An enigmatic earthwork with dry stone walls of uncertain date.' The Castles' is a trapezoidal enclosure covering just over an acre with dry stone rubble walls averaging 16 feet thick and originally 11 feet high. There is late ridge and furrow inside the enclosure. Trenching of the site has failed to establish its function. A few Bronze Age flints, including an arrowhead have been found on the site. (PastScape)

Marked in An Historical Atlas of County Durham as a questionable medieval tower house or small castle with no descriptive text. However the moderately extensive archaeological excavations of the site have never shown any evidence of medieval occupation or reuse, other than ploughing within the enclosure. Can be rejected as a medieval fortification of any sort.
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 09:20:09

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