Hethpool tower house


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018439

Date first listed: 15-Jan-1999


Ordnance survey map of Hethpool tower house
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Dec-2018 at 13:22:52.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Kirknewton


National Grid Reference: NT 89660 28361


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.

Hethpool tower is in reasonable condition and retains significant archaeological information. It will contribute to any future studies of medieval architecture and settlement patterns.


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


The monument includes the ruins of a 14th century medieval tower house situated in the garden of Hethpool House, on a tongue of land in the confluence of the Elsdon and College Burns. The ruin, which is Listed Grade II, consists of three walls of a square building measuring 7m square. It stands to a height of two storeys, with the south west and south east walls measuring 1.6m thick. The north east wall is only 0.6m thick. The south east wall has an internal set back at first floor level, and a central recess or window above. The building seems to be unusually small for a permanent dwelling, but a reference dating to 1541 referred to it as a `lytle stone house or pyle' at Hethpool `whiche ys a greate releyffe to the tennants'. This implies that it was used as an occasional refuge. Fallen masonry on the northern side of the tower is included in the scheduling.

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: 31704

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990), 49

End of official listing