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Alnham Castle: a medieval tower house

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Alnham Castle: a medieval tower house

List entry Number: 1017057

Location

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

County:

District: Northumberland

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Alnham

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 15-Oct-1980

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Jun-1999

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 31727

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.

The tower house at Alnham is reasonably well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. Substantial masonry remains of the basement remain intact and will add to our understanding of medieval and post-medieval settlement in the region.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the remains of a medieval tower house at Alnham, often referred to as Alnham Castle. It lies on high ground to the south of the medieval village remains which are the subject of a separate scheduling. The tower is rectangular in plan and survives as a prominent sub-rectangular mound which measures 22m east-west by 18m north-south and stands up to 2m high. Part of the inner face of the north wall and its junction with a cross wall are visible as exposed masonry and there is a possible doorway at the north east corner. Some 15m east of the tower is a slightly curving earthwork, orientated north-south, which may indicate the site of an attached hall or house. The tower is one of two in Alnham and is first mentioned in 1405 when it was surrendered to royal troops. It belonged to the Earl of Northumberland and is recorded in documents in 1415, 1514 and 1541, by which time both towers were in a state of poor repair due to Scottish raids.

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

Other
NT 91 SE 7,

National Grid Reference: NT 99184 10812

Map

Map
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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 - 1017057 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 18-Nov-2017 at 09:59:09.

End of official listing