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Cartington Castle at Cartington Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Cartington, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.3348 / 55°20'5"N

Longitude: -1.9398 / 1°56'23"W

OS Eastings: 403917.050125

OS Northings: 604523.753062

OS Grid: NU039045

Mapcode National: GBR G6WR.VG

Mapcode Global: WHB0Q.55KN

Entry Name: Cartington Castle at Cartington Farm

Scheduled Date: 26 November 1932

Last Amended: 6 October 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011611

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20903

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Cartington

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Upper Coquetdale

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a medieval castle of complex form and associated remains
situated on the northern end of a ridge orientated north-south. The ground on
either side of the ridge shelves gently down to the Spout Burn on the east and
to the Coquet valley on the south and west. The remains are visible as a 14th
century walled courtyard measuring 25m east-west by 18m north-south within
curtain walls 0.7m thick. At the south-east and north-east corners of the
courtyard there are the remains of two turrets; the north-east one remained
unfinished and survives only several courses high; the better preserved south-
east turret has a garderobe attached to its south-west side. At the south-west
corner of the courtyard a strong tower was constructed; this was destroyed in
the Civil War siege of 1648 and only very slight traces of the foundations of
its west wall remain. At the northern side of the courtyard there is a range
of buildings in a ruinous condition. They comprise a second massive 14th
century tower at the north-east corner and a hall and chambers; the tower was
tunnel-vaulted and has a fine well preserved stair turret in its south-west
corner. It measures 6m by 11m within walls 2.2m thick but does not survive
above first floor level, except at the south-west corner. It is believed that
this tower was originally intended to stand alone at one end of the courtyard,
but soon after its construction a hall and chambers were added to its western
side completing the range of buildings, although now only parts of the eastern
end survive above first floor level. This block was not completed until the
early 15th century. Licence to crenellate was granted in 1441. The tower house
was altered in the early 17th century by, amongst other things, the addition
of Tudor windows in the great tower and first floor of the hall block. In the
late 17th century further alterations resulted in the courtyard being filled
in up to first floor level. In 1887, when the tower house was in a state of
dilapidation, it was excavated and restored by Lord Armstrong. During these
excavations finds,including a small 15th century wooden cross, coins of
Charles II and George I and some sandstone carvings of a religious nature,
were recovered; the latter had almost certainly been in the castle chapel.
Earlier, in 1824, other artefacts of a religious nature were discovered to the
south of the complex by the then occupier, Mr Robson. The tower house was last
occupied in the mid-19th century, since when its condition has deteriorated
rapidly. Ten metres north of the tower house there are traces of a medieval
wall and a large terrace, the remains of a garden feature associated with the
tower house. To the east and south-east rectangular enclosures are visible,
surviving as low earthworks, and a large terrace feature is very prominent;
early documents testify to the existence of other houses and enclosures,
orchards and gardens forming part of the castle complex.
The fence lines and field walls are excluded from the scheduling but the
ground beneath is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 ruins of the castle at Cartington survive well and display several stages
of building and re-building. In its original form it was intended to be a
walled enclosure with four corner towers or turrets. The building of this
early castle was interrupted and subsequently the north-east turret was
replaced by the tower-house. This formed the heart of the castle throughout
the medieval period, although additional buildings were appended to it in the
15th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dixon, D D, Upper Coquetdale, (1903)
Hope-Dodds, M, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume XV, (1940)
Richardson, M A, Local Historians Table Book 3, (1843)
No. 2242,
NU/0304/D, Gates, T, Cartington Castle, (1982)

Source: Historic England

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