Bellister Castle (uninhabited parts)


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 70070 62949


Bellister Castle, 515m north west of Broomhouse.

Reasons for Designation

Tower houses are a type of defensible house particularly characteristic of the borderlands of England and Scotland. Virtually every parish had at least one of these buildings. Solitary tower houses comprise a single square or rectangular `keep' several storeys high, with strong barrel-vaults tying together massive outer walls. Many towers had stone slab roofs, often with a parapet walk. Access could be gained through a ground floor entrance or at first floor level where a doorway would lead directly to a first floor hall. Solitary towers were normally accompanied by a small outer enclosure defined by a timber or stone wall and called a barmkin. Tower houses were being constructed and used from at least the 13th century to the end of the 16th century. They provided prestigious defended houses permanently occupied by the wealthier and aristocratic members of society. As such, they were important centres of medieval life. The need for such secure buildings relates to the unsettled and frequently war-like conditions which prevailed in the Borders throughout much of the medieval period. Around 200 examples of tower houses have been identified of which less than half are of the free- standing or solitary tower type. All surviving solitary towers retaining significant medieval remains will normally be identified as nationally important.

The motte and moat of Bellister Castle are well-preserved and the remains of the hall house are partly preserved as upstanding masonry with surviving medieval architectural features. The presence of the 13th century hall house on an earlier motte indicates that there will be archaeological deposits relating to an earlier structure. The monument is a good example of its type and is representative of the need for fortified residences in the Borders throughout the medieval period. It will contain archaeological deposits relating to its construction, use that will chart the development of the monument over time.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 26 May 2016. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes the remains of a hall house, motte and moat of medieval date, situated on level ground adjacent to the South Tyne. The earliest remains on the site are an artificial mound or motte surrounded by a moat, which is partially silted up. On top of the motte are the remains of a rectangular hall house, aligned north east-south west, with the north and west walls standing to two and three storeys in height and the south and east walls preserved in a tumbled state. The north west corner has alternating quoins and there is the fragmentary remains of a spiral stair in the south west corner. On the north side is the remains of a window in a surround with double-roll moulding and part of a garderobe survives on the south wall. On the west side of the north end of the hall house is the fragmentary remains of a solar tower measuring approximately 8m by 7m, which is a later addition.

The form of the motte indicates that it was built in the late 11th-12th century, whilst the hall house is understood to be of late 13th century date with the addition of the solar tower occurring in the 14th century. By the 16th century Bellister Castle had passed into the hands of the Blenkinsop family and a survey of 1561 lists it as a bastle house. The house was occupied until the 18th century.

The remains of the hall house abut a post-medieval house bearing a datestone of 1669 but built in the 19th century. Both the hall house and post-medieval house together are a listed building Grade I.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
ND 381
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:- 15484


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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