Medieval church and graveyard 330m north west of Berwick Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019902

Date first listed: 09-May-2001


Ordnance survey map of Medieval church and graveyard 330m north west of Berwick Castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Berwick-upon-Tweed

National Grid Reference: NT 99132 53625


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

Reasons for Designation

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little fabric of the first church being still easily visible. Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of 1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.

The sites of abandoned churches, where positively identified, are particularly worthy of statutory protection as they and their surrounding graveyards were often left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the nature and date of their use up to their abandonment. The medieval church at Castle Terrace, survives reasonably well, and its associated graveyard is very well-preserved with little post-medieval disturbance. The church is known to be one of Berwick upon Tweed's lost inter-mural churches and will provide important information about its construction, use and adaptation. In addition it will provide an insight into the early medieval town of Berwick as it fluctuated between English and Scottish control. The excellent nature of the survival of the associated graveyard provides a rare opportunity for study of the topography of a medieval graveyard. The burials themselves will provide important information on burial practice and study of the skeletal remains will provide a major insight into the medieval population of the town. The ornately carved grave slabs reflect the status of some individuals, and they form an unusual and important collection of medieval carved grave slabs in their own right.


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


The monument includes the known extent of the partially excavated upstanding remains and the buried below ground remains of a 12th century church and part of its associated graveyard within the grounds of 21 and 23 Castle Terrace. The site occupies a high cliff above the left bank of the River Tweed where it commands extensive views across the Tweed Valley. The church and graveyard, situated immediately outside the walled medieval town of Berwick upon Tweed, are thought to have been abandoned as part of the retreat within the town walls during the Anglo-Scottish wars of the 14th century. A number of churches mentioned in medieval documents are known to have been abandoned in Berwick upon Tweed at this time. The remains at Castle Terrace are thought to represent one of three abandoned churches located in the area to the north west of the town; these are the nunnery of St Leonard and the churches of St Lawrence and St Mary. The latter is considered the most likely identification for this site. The eastern two thirds of the church were uncovered and partially excavated in 1998 when its plan was revealed and the nature of its construction examined. This part is visible as the lower courses of the eastern end of the nave, the chancel, the apse end and a small chapel appended to the south eastern corner of the nave. The visible part of the rectangular nave measures 9.5m east to west by 6.5m within walls which are 2m wide. The walls stand one course high and are constructed of square masonry set on deep foundations of clay bonded river cobbles more than 1.4m deep. A narrow stone wall 0.9m wide divides the nave along its long axis and is thought to have served as seating. Areas of burning associated with this wall were uncovered by excavation. These contained large quantities of iron nails and glass. At the eastern end of the nave there is a rectangular chancel 4.5m by 4.2m within walls 1.25m thick, set on foundations similar in nature to the nave. Attached to the eastern end of the chancel there is a semi-circular shaped apse which measures 3m from east to west within walls 1m wide; on the external foot of the apse there are three buttresses 0.6m wide and 0.3m deep and the disturbed remains of a fourth. Attached to the south eastern corner of the nave there is a rectangular chamber measuring 5.8m by 5.5m which contains the foundations of a stone structure against the eastern wall; this chamber is thought to be the remains of a small chapel with an altar set against its eastern wall. The chamber overlies part of the surrounding graveyard indicating that the chapel was added onto the church at a later date. The 1998 excavation showed that the nave and chancel have a clay floor. The remains of at least ten graves were identified within the church containing single and multiple burials; two of the burials situated within the chancel were excavated and each contained an almost complete skeleton. The western part of the medieval church including the western third of the nave survives as a series of buried deposits beneath the present surface of the ground and remains unexcavated. This part of the nave is thought to be about 11.5m long. Surrounding the remains of the church on all sides, there is an associated medieval graveyard. Areas surrounding the eastern two thirds of the church were uncovered by excavation; within this area the burials are densely packed and a total of 45 graves were identified; two of these graves were excavated to the south of the chancel each containing a single almost complete skeleton. Disturbance to other graves revealed that below the visible, latest layer of burials there were further burials, some contained within stone coffins and some without coffins to a depth of about 1m. The excavators consider that there are at least 400 burials within the graveyard. Many of the graves are covered by medieval stone grave markers ranging from single slabs with a simple decoration to elaborately carved slabs with a wide range of ornate motifs carved onto their surfaces. The style of the decoration and the nature of the motifs on the grave slabs indicate that they are of 11th to 12th century date while some of the plain slabs are thought to be of 14th century date; it is considered that the graveyard had gone out of use by the middle of the 14th century. Several of the graves also retain stone head and foot markers indicating their original size. Large quantities of medieval pottery were recovered from the church and the graveyard, much of which is thought to be local in origin and dates from the 12th to the 15th century. On all sides, the graveyard is thought to extend beyond the limit of the area uncovered in 1998 as graves were discovered to continue up to the limits of the exposed areas, and boundaries indicating the extent of the graveyard were absent. Beyond the exposed areas, the graveyard survives as a series of buried features below the present level of the ground. Newspaper reports in the Berwick Advertiser in March 1941 refer to the discovery of human remains in several different areas of 21 Castle Terrace and when the present house at 23 Castle Terrace was built, immediately to the west of the west end of the church, a human skull was recovered. Further information about the original extent of the graveyard is contained within a Local Board of Health plan of Berwick upon Tweed dated to 1852. This map depicts a large plot of land immediately south of the Duns road; it is thought that the boundaries of this plot reflect an early allotment on the site which contained the church and graveyard. The allotment is bounded on the north by the south side of Duns road and on the south side by the steep natural break of slope, both of which form the present property boundaries of the eastern half of Castle Terrace. The eastern boundary of the allotment lies 190m east of the remains of the medieval church where it forms the eastern limit of Castle Terrace. The western boundary of the allotment lies in a similar position, although on a slightly different alignment, to the present western property boundary of 23 Castle Terrace. The house and garage at 23 Castle Terrace, all areas of hardstanding and the surface of the metalled drive are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features 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: 32762

Legacy System: RSM


Local Board of Health Plan of Berwick upon Tweed, (1852)
The Archaeological Practice, Rescue Recording of a Church and Graveyard: 21 Castle Terrace, 1999,
The Archaeological Practice, Rescue Recording of a Church and Graveyard: 21 Castle Terrace, 1999,

End of official listing