This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Overgrass tower house 150m south east of Newmoor Hall

List Entry Summary

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.

Name: Overgrass tower house 150m south east of Newmoor Hall

List entry Number: 1016711


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.


District: Northumberland

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Newton-on-the-Moor and Swarland

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 02-Jul-1999

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 31723

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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. 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.

Overgrass tower house is well preserved and retains many original features and significant archaeological deposits. It will make an important contribution to the study of settlement at this time.


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


The monument includes the ruins of a medieval tower house of late 14th or 15th century date, situated in a valley bottom beside the Swarland Burn. A later building is attached to the north side of the tower. The tower, which is Listed Grade II, stands up to first floor level. It is rectangular in plan and measures 11.2m by 8.5m externally, with walls of coursed sandstone ashlar about 1.8m thick. Externally, there is a chamfered set-back 1.8m above ground level. The entrance lies at the east end of the south wall. Only the west side of the entrance lobby survives, as the south east corner of the tower has collapsed. The south east corner originally contained a newel stair which was visible at the beginning of the 20th century but is now overgrown. Internally, the basement vault of the tower survives largely intact, with the exception of the south east corner, and was formerly lit by a chamfered loop at the east and west ends. In addition, there is a smaller square opening above the western loop. There are two small aumbries, or recesses, in the east and south walls; the one in the south wall is now blocked. In the thickness of the west wall are the remains of a garderobe chute. Abutting the north wall of the tower is a later building, 6m wide by 6.5m long with walls about 0.6m thick. It is clearly built from reused stonework from the upper parts of the tower and the ruins stand to a similar height. Three wooden fences which abut the tower and adjoining building are excluded from the monument, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Ryder, P F, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland: A Survey, (1995), 36-7

National Grid Reference: NU 14448 03333


© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. 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 - 1016711 .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 20-Sep-2018 at 01:46:26.

End of official listing