Wooler Tower on east side of Church Street

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018347

Date first listed: 17-Feb-1953

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Aug-1998

Map

Ordnance survey map of Wooler Tower on east side of Church Street
© 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.
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Location

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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Wooler

National Grid Reference: NT 99294 28096

Summary

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.

Despite the fragmentary nature of the remains of Wooler Tower and the erection of a war memorial, the mound has not been greatly disturbed and significant archaeological remains will survive beneath the ground surface. It was an important link in the chain of border defences in the 16th century and will contribute to any study of defences at this time.

History

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

Details

This monument includes the remains of a medieval tower of early 16th century date situated on a prominent mound. There are steep slopes on the north and east, where it falls to Wooler Water. The tower survives as three large blocks of masonry, one of which, a mass of core material, is believed to lie in situ. A block lying near a modern war memorial is a section of the corner of the tower with walls 1.5m thick; the walling is faced with large blocks of sandstone. To the east of these remains are traces of a slight earthwork platform. The mound on which these fragments lie is believed to be natural, rather than artificial, but is the probable site of a 12th century castle with timber defences which belonged to the Muschamps. Documentary evidence records that it was disused by 1255 and the site was not reoccupied until the tower was built in the early 16th century. The tower is first mentioned in 1509 and in 1526 was referred to as the `new castle'. It was built in reaction to disturbances on the English-Scottish border and became an important link in the chain of forts featured in a plan of border defences drawn up by Christopher Dacre in 1584. A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the war memorial, its railings and concrete plinth, a bench and its concrete plinth, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

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

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 29337

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing