Cartington Castle at Cartington Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Cartington Castle at Cartington Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1011611 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 22-Oct-2019 at 19:45:52.


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

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NU 03916 04524

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. At many sites the tower comprised only one element of a larger house, with at least one wing being attached to it. These wings provided further domestic accommodation, frequently including a large hall. If it was incorporated within a larger domestic residence, the tower itself could retain its defensible qualities and could be shut off from the rest of the house in times of trouble. 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 or 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 over half were elements of larger houses. All surviving tower houses retaining significant medieval remains will normally be identified as nationally important.

The ruins of the castle at Cartington survive well and display several stages of building and re-building. In its original form it was intended to be a walled enclosure with four corner towers or turrets. The building of this early castle was interrupted and subsequently the north-east turret was replaced by the tower-house. This formed the heart of the castle throughout the medieval period, although additional buildings were appended to it in the 15th century.


The monument includes a medieval castle of complex form and associated remains situated on the northern end of a ridge orientated north-south. The ground on either side of the ridge shelves gently down to the Spout Burn on the east and to the Coquet valley on the south and west. The remains are visible as a 14th century walled courtyard measuring 25m east-west by 18m north-south within curtain walls 0.7m thick. At the south-east and north-east corners of the courtyard there are the remains of two turrets; the north-east one remained unfinished and survives only several courses high; the better preserved south- east turret has a garderobe attached to its south-west side. At the south-west corner of the courtyard a strong tower was constructed; this was destroyed in the Civil War siege of 1648 and only very slight traces of the foundations of its west wall remain. At the northern side of the courtyard there is a range of buildings in a ruinous condition. They comprise a second massive 14th century tower at the north-east corner and a hall and chambers; the tower was tunnel-vaulted and has a fine well preserved stair turret in its south-west corner. It measures 6m by 11m within walls 2.2m thick but does not survive above first floor level, except at the south-west corner. It is believed that this tower was originally intended to stand alone at one end of the courtyard, but soon after its construction a hall and chambers were added to its western side completing the range of buildings, although now only parts of the eastern end survive above first floor level. This block was not completed until the early 15th century. Licence to crenellate was granted in 1441. The tower house was altered in the early 17th century by, amongst other things, the addition of Tudor windows in the great tower and first floor of the hall block. In the late 17th century further alterations resulted in the courtyard being filled in up to first floor level. In 1887, when the tower house was in a state of dilapidation, it was excavated and restored by Lord Armstrong. During these excavations finds,including a small 15th century wooden cross, coins of Charles II and George I and some sandstone carvings of a religious nature, were recovered; the latter had almost certainly been in the castle chapel. Earlier, in 1824, other artefacts of a religious nature were discovered to the south of the complex by the then occupier, Mr Robson. The tower house was last occupied in the mid-19th century, since when its condition has deteriorated rapidly. Ten metres north of the tower house there are traces of a medieval wall and a large terrace, the remains of a garden feature associated with the tower house. To the east and south-east rectangular enclosures are visible, surviving as low earthworks, and a large terrace feature is very prominent; early documents testify to the existence of other houses and enclosures, orchards and gardens forming part of the castle complex. The fence lines and field walls are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Dixon, D D, Upper Coquetdale, (1903)
Hope-Dodds, M, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume XV, (1940)
Richardson, M A, Local Historians Table Book 3, (1843)
No. 2242,
NU/0304/D, Gates, T, Cartington Castle, (1982)


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].