Welton tower house


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:
NZ 06543 67592

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 tower house at Welton survives well and retains significant archaeological deposits and many original architectural features. Taken together with the adjacent medieval manor house, it is thought to be one of the best combinations of manor house and tower in the county. Its importance is enhanced by its association with the adjacent medieval village.


The monument includes the remains of a tower house of 15th century date. It is located within a farm complex, but was originally on the street line at the eastern end of the medieval village of Welton. The medieval village, field system and fishponds are the subject of a separate scheduling. The tower was created in the late 14th or early 15th century by the conversion of the west wing of an earlier, but still occupied, manor house. Both the tower house and the adjacent manor house are Listed Grade II*. The stonework of the original, steeply pitched western gable of the former wing, from which it was converted, is visible in the west wall of the tower. The tower, which is square in shape and measures 7m externally, stands three storeys high and is roofless. It has a vaulted basement which was clearly a later addition. The basement was lit by two small square windows through the south wall, the most westerly one of which has been altered to provide a doorway. A small, now blocked, opening through the east wall has been obscured by the insertion of the later tunnel vaulted roof. The first floor contains a low doorway through its northern wall with a projecting stone spout immediately to the west and a small ornate window through the eastern wall. Both the north and east wall of the second floor of the tower contain a square headed window. Part of the parapet which surmounted the tower is visible at its south western corner. The metalled farm yard area immediately to the north of the north wall of the tower is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath this feature 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
Ryder, P F, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland: A Survey, (1995), 102-4
Tolan-Smith, C, Landscape Archaeology in Tynedale: Chapter 5, (1997), 53-67
NZ06NE 19,


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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