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Edlingham Castle fortified manor and solar tower

A Scheduled Monument in Edlingham, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.3767 / 55°22'36"N

Longitude: -1.8182 / 1°49'5"W

OS Eastings: 411617.297372

OS Northings: 609209.836045

OS Grid: NU116092

Mapcode National: GBR H6R8.5D

Mapcode Global: WHC1Q.13GY

Entry Name: Edlingham Castle fortified manor and solar tower

Scheduled Date: 8 February 1915

Last Amended: 12 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011646

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23227

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Edlingham

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Whittingham and Edlingham with Bolton Chapel

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument known as Edlingham Castle includes the hall, solar tower, curtain
wall and gatehouse of a late 13th to 14th century fortified manor and an outer
defensive earthwork. Included within the courtyard are drains and the remains
of service buildings dating to all periods of occupation. Earlier examples
survive as buried features beneath 16th century upstanding remains.
The earliest standing remains are those of the hall. Built between c.1295 and
1300, this structure stood on the south side of a cobbled courtyard and was a
rectangular building with octagonal corner turrets. Only a fragment of the
south-east turret survives to any height, but the building would originally
have been two storeyed, the ground floor consisting of an undercroft used for
storage, and the first floor including the public and private apartments of
the lords of the manor of Edlingham. In the mid-14th century a curtain wall
and projecting gatehouse were built to enclose the hall and courtyard, thereby
strengthening the rampart which originally surrounded the manor and survives
as an earthwork measuring c.12m wide by c.1m high. Only the base of the
curtain wall and gatehouse remain standing, but enough of the latter
survives to show that it included three arches, the central retaining the
groove for a portcullis. A variety of service buildings would have existed
within the courtyard, round the inner face of the curtain wall, and would have
included, for example, kitchens, accommodation for servants and men-at-arms,
stabling, a brewhouse, a bakehouse, and shelter for livestock. The foundations
of those service buildings that are currently visible are 16th century and
date from the replanning of the courtyard ranges after 1514. Their
construction involved the demolition of earlier structures, possibly timber or
timber-framed, whose remains now survive as buried features within the
The tower was built in the mid to late 14th century. It was built adjacent to
the earlier hall to provide private accommodation for the owner and his
family. Because of its role in providing such private living space it is known
as a 'solar' tower. This building, whose north and west walls survive almost
to their full height, is roughly square and includes a forebuilding on the
north side and stepped diagonal buttresses at each corner, each originally
surmounted by a circular bartizan or battlemented turret. The forebuilding
originally connected with the hall and also contained the stairs that provided
access to each floor and the parapet around the roof. The tower is three
storeyed, the ground floor being unusual in that, instead of functioning as a
storeroom, it was clearly a comfortable private chamber containing a decorated
fireplace, a garderobe or latrine and a recessed window with seats. The first
floor chamber, which served as the hall or public room, is equally well-
appointed with the remains of an elaborate fireplace and a double line of
windows, the larger lower ones having seats. The second floor room is simpler,
having a plainer fireplace.
The original hall and fortifications were built by William Felton after he
purchased the manor from Thomas de Edlingham in 1295. It remained the
principal residence of his family until c.1402 when historical records suggest
it was split between two households, each concurrently occupying either the
tower house or the hall. In 1514, the estate was purchased by the Swinburnes
who rebuilt the courtyard buildings and lived at Edlingham until c.1630. By
1661, the buildings were being dismantled for their stone. The standing
remains have been in State care since 1975 and are also a Grade I Listed
Excluded from the scheduling are all English Heritage fittings and fixtures,
the modern timber bridge into the monument and all modern fencing, although
the ground underneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Fortified manors are residences of the lesser nobility and richer burgesses
and date from the late 12th century and throughout the rest of the Middle
Ages. Generally they comprise a hall and residential wing, domestic ranges,
and fortifications such as a moat or crenellated wall, or both. In the north,
as at Edlingham Castle, it was common for a solar tower to be a later addition
to a hall. Tower houses are a type of defensible house particularly
characteristic of the borderlands of England and Scotland. Often, the tower
comprised only one element of a larger house, with at least one additional
domestic wing being provided; in the case of Edlingham by an earlier hall. The
tower house could be shut off from the rest in times of trouble and defended
from its roof and turrets. Tower houses were being constructed and used from
at least the 13th to the late 16th centuries, concurrent with three hundred
years of Border unrest which only ended with the union of the Scottish and
English crowns in 1603. They were prestigious houses, usually permanently
occupied by wealthy or aristocratic families, and, as such, were important
centres of medieval life. All surviving examples retaining significant
medieval remains are normally identified as nationally important. At
Edlingham, although the buildings of both the solar tower and the manor are
only moderately well preserved, archaeological remains relating to earlier
medieval manorial features are retained throughout the monument.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Fairclough, G, 'Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society' in Edlingham Castle, Northumberland, , Vol. NS 28, (1984), 40-59
Fairclough, G., Edlingham Castle (excavation), 1994, Monograph, forthcoming
Fairclough, G., Edlingham Castle: Excavations 1978-80 Interim Report, 1982,

Source: Historic England

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