Harbybrow pele tower


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.

Allerdale (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 19241 41500


Harbybrow Tower, 169m WNW of Harby Brow Mill.

Reasons for Designation

Tower houses, including pele towers, 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.

Harbybrow Tower WNW of Harby Brow Mill is well-preserved with numerous original features surviving intact and is a good example of a medieval pele tower. The monument will contain archaeological deposits relating to its construction, use and abandonment. The monument provides insight into the character of fortified dwellings in the Borders region during the medieval period and is representative of its period and the political struggles between England and Scotland at that time.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 24 February 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 pele tower of medieval date with some post-medieval alterations, situated on a ridge between the River Ellen to the south and Dow Beck to the north. The tower is constructed from red and yellow sandstone blocks with flush red sandstone quoins and is surmounted by an embattled parapet. It stands to four storeys and is rectangular in plan measuring approximately 12.4m by 9m. The first floor of the tower survives intact with a number of later alterations and the upper floors survive as a shell. The tower has a hollow-chamfered doorway in the west wall, which before being blocked, gave access to the lower barrel-vaulted chamber and now provides access to a newel staircase. The south wall has chamfered-surround openings and the east wall has two-light stone mullioned windows with cusped heads. The north wall has a hollow-chamfered doorway and two-light mullioned windows, which are similar to those on the east wall but represent 19th century replacements. The tower retains a number of other original features including garderobes with original seats and hand sinks and stone fireplaces on two levels.

Harbybrow Tower was built in the 15th century by Alexander Highmore and a house was added to the tower in 1550. The house was demolished and replaced by a 19th century farmhouse and barn. The farmhouse, which is attached to the tower, is not covered by the scheduling. The tower, adjoining farmhouse and barn are a listed building Grade I.


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

Legacy System number:
CU 24
Legacy System:


PastScape Monument No:- 9556


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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