The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
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In 1315 Aug 28, Thomas, comes Lancastr (Thomas, second Earl of Lancaster) was granted, by Edward II, (In year 9 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Dunstanburgh (Dunstanburgh Castle)
Licence to the king's kinsman, Thomas, earl of Lancaster, to crenellate his dwelling-place of Dunstanburgh {mansum suum de Dunstanburgh}, co. Northumberland. (CPR)

Thomas, comes Lancastr ... mansum ... Dunstanburgh, Northumbr. (Turner and Parker)

Granted at Lincoln.


The stone for Dunstanburgh was begun to be quarried on May 7, 1313 and much of the castle was built in that and the following year, so the licence was a post factum one, or at most 'legalised' the finishing touches to the battlements.

Of Thomas's many holdings this was the only one with access to the sea. The real defence for someone of such political position as Thomas to changing political situations would be, if unable to mollify the situation, to flee overseas. In Thomas's case neither a castle nor a boat saved his life.

Original source is;

(In fact, the original source given is usually a transcription/translation of what are precious medieval documents not readily availably. It should be noted that these transcription/translations often date to the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries and that unwitting bias of transcribers may affect the translation. Care should also be taken to avoid giving modern meaning to the medieval use of certain stock words and terms. Licentia is best translated as 'freedom to' not 'permission'.)

Significant later sources are;

Thomas of Lancaster, second earl of Lancaster, second earl of Leicester, and earl of Lincoln (c.1278–1322)
At this time Thomas was almost at the height of his considerable powers; he was made the king's chief councillor by parliament in January 1316, a position that effectively confirmed his status as the de facto ruler of England that he had held since the disaster of the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. There was probably deep personal enmity between Thomas and king Edward, as Thomas was foremost amongst those who had killed Piers Gaverston in 1312. The licence was a symbolic legitimisation by a powerless king of Thomas's new castle. Thomas was executed in 1322 after being defeated by a revived king at the Battle of Boroughbridge.

Biographical source include;

More information about licences to crenellate can be found here.

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Record created by Philip Davis. This record last updated on Sunday, October 4, 2015.