Site of Catterlen Old Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012815

Date first listed: 10-Oct-1995


Ordnance survey map of Site of Catterlen Old Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Eden (District Authority)

Parish: Catterlen

National Grid Reference: NY 47801 32144


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

Despite the lack of upstanding medieval fabric, the site of Catterlen Old Hall tower house survives reasonably well and remains unencumbered by modern development. It is a good example of the site of an early tower house which was subsequently abandoned in favour of a nearby replacement, and will contain evidence for the buildings which were occupied from the 12th to the 15th centuries.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the remains of the 12th century Catterlen Old Hall tower house, the precursor of the 15th century Catterlen Hall tower house which stands a short distance to the south. It includes a prominent grass covered building platform up to 1m high and measuring approximately 30m by 20m. At the northern end of this platform are the boulder foundations of the tower. It measures approximately 17m by 13m and contains a large central hollow considered to have been the cellar or basement. At the southern end of the platform there are further boulder foundations indicating the position of a south wing which measured approximately 15m by 10m. There are also faint traces of the foundations of a cross hall which would have connected the tower with the south wing. The building is thought to have been constructed c.1170 by John Vaulx, Knight of Catterlen. It was replaced c.1460 by the present Catterlen Hall tower house which was built by William de Vaulx. This abandonment of an existing medieval tower house in favour of the construction of a nearby replacement is paralleled elsewhere in the locality, notably at Blencow and Hutton John.

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: 23777

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Curwen, J F, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Extra Ser.' in Castles and Towers of Cumb, West and Lancs N of the Sands, , Vol. 13, (1913), 358
Schofield,A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Tower House, (1989)

End of official listing