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Enclosure castle known as Triermain Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Waterhead, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.9941 / 54°59'38"N

Longitude: -2.635 / 2°38'6"W

OS Eastings: 359468.559026

OS Northings: 566801.633162

OS Grid: NY594668

Mapcode National: GBR BB1P.BJ

Mapcode Global: WH90S.HQGS

Entry Name: Enclosure castle known as Triermain Castle

Scheduled Date: 17 February 1953

Last Amended: 18 March 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014876

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27695

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Waterhead

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Lanercostwith Kirkcambeck St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of Triermain medieval
enclosure castle. It is situated immediately to the east of Triermain Farm and
stands on a small glacial mound in the midst of a wide valley. The castle was
quadrangular in plan with towers on the east and west sides. It was surrounded
by a curtain wall and flanked by a moat. The upstanding remains of the
monument include the ruins of an internal building and a fragment of the
gatehouse to the west.

The castle was built with material from Hadrian's Wall which runs c.1km to the
south. The mound upon which it stands is littered with grass-covered rubble
which represents the tumble from the monument's walls. The main internal
building measured c.22m by 21m but its only upstanding fragment is a corner
which still stands to almost its full height. Within the fabric of this
masonry there are traces of a newel staircase and, at first floor level,
remains of a window and part of a door jamb. The surrounding moat has been
partly infilled but still survives at the south east corner and along parts of
the south and east sides where it measures up to 5m wide by 1m deep. To the
west of the castle, and adjacent to modern farmbuildings, there is a fragment
of masonry measuring c.4m long and up to 1.4m high which originally formed
part of the gatehouse to the castle.

Triermain was included in a grant of land given by Henry II in 1157 to Hubert
de Vaux. The date of the castle's construction is unknown but in 1340 Roland
de Vaux was given licence to crenellate his `dwelling place of Trevermame'. In
the latter half of the 15th century the manor of Triermain was purchased by
the Dacres and about this time Triermain Castle appears to have been abandoned
in favour of a new castle at Askerton a little over three miles away. Latterly
the monument has received literary recognition through Sir Walter Scott's poem
`The Bridal Of Triermain', Robert Carlyle's poem `De Vaux, or the heir of
Gilsland', and Samual Coleridge's `Christobel'.

All walls, fences, gateposts, and the concrete surface of a stock pen are
excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath all these features is

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

An enclosure castle is a defended residence or stronghold, built mainly of
stone, in which the principal or sole defence comprises the walls and towers
bounding the site. Some form of keep may have stood within the enclosure but
this was not significant in defensive terms and served mainly to provide
accommodation. Larger sites might have more than one line of walling and there
are normally mural towers and gatehouses. Outside the walls a ditch, either
waterfilled or dry, crossed by bridges may be found. The first enclosure
castles were constructed at the time of the Norman Conquest. However, they
developed considerably in form during the 12th century when defensive
experience gained during the Crusades was applied to their design. The
majority of examples were constructed in the 13th century although a few were
built as late as the 14th century. Some represent reconstructions of earlier
medieval earthwork castles of the motte and bailey type, although others were
new creations. They provided strongly defended residences for the king or
leading families and occur in both urban and rural situations. Enclosure
castles are widely dispersed throughout England, with a slight concentration
in Kent and Sussex supporting a vulnerable coast, and a strong concentration
along the Welsh border where some of the best examples were built under Edward
I. They are rare nationally with only 126 recorded examples. Considerable
diversity of form is exhibited with no two examples being exactly alike. With
other castle types, they are major medieval monument types which, belonging to
the highest levels of society, frequently acted as major administrative
centres and formed the foci for developing settlement patterns. Castles
generally provide an emotive and evocative link to the past and can provide a
valuable educational resource, both with respect to medieval warfare and
defence and with respect to wider aspects of medieval society. All examples
retaining significant remains of medieval date are considered to be nationally

Despite many centuries of neglect, the site of Triermain Castle survives
reasonably well and still retains upstanding medieval fabric. The monument
remains largely unencumbered by modern development and will contain
significant buried remains of the medieval castle which is known to have been
occupied until the late 15th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Curwen, J F, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Extra Ser.' in Castles and Towers of Cumb, West and Lancs N of the Sands, , Vol. XIII, (1913), 238-40
Graham, T H B, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Extinct Cumberland Castles, , Vol. XI, (1911), 250-54
McIntyre, W T, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Triermain Castle, , Vol. XXVI, (1926), 247-54
FMR Report, Crow, J, Triermain Castle, (1991)
Leach,P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Enclosure Castles, (1989)
SMR No. 3862, Cumbria SMR, Triermain, (1984)

Source: Historic England

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