Ancient Monuments

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Overgrass tower house 150m south east of Newmoor Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Longframlington, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.3239 / 55°19'25"N

Longitude: -1.7738 / 1°46'25"W

OS Eastings: 414447.528242

OS Northings: 603332.664326

OS Grid: NU144033

Mapcode National: GBR J61W.RC

Mapcode Global: WHC1X.QGH0

Entry Name: Overgrass tower house 150m south east of Newmoor Hall

Scheduled Date: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016711

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31723

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Longframlington

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Felton St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the ruins of a medieval tower house of late 14th or 15th
century date, situated in a valley bottom beside the Swarland Burn. A later
building is attached to the north side of the tower. The tower, which is
Listed Grade II, stands up to first floor level. It is rectangular in plan and
measures 11.2m by 8.5m externally, with walls of coursed sandstone ashlar
about 1.8m thick. Externally, there is a chamfered set-back 1.8m above ground
level. The entrance lies at the east end of the south wall. Only the west side
of the entrance lobby survives, as the south east corner of the tower has
collapsed. The south east corner originally contained a newel stair which was
visible at the beginning of the 20th century but is now overgrown. Internally,
the basement vault of the tower survives largely intact, with the exception
of the south east corner, and was formerly lit by a chamfered loop at the east
and west ends. In addition, there is a smaller square opening above the
western loop. There are two small aumbries, or recesses, in the east and south
walls; the one in the south wall is now blocked. In the thickness of the west
wall are the remains of a garderobe chute. Abutting the north wall of the
tower is a later building, 6m wide by 6.5m long with walls about 0.6m thick.
It is clearly built from reused stonework from the upper parts of the tower
and the ruins stand to a similar height.
Three wooden fences which abut the tower and adjoining building are excluded
from the monument, although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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. Solitary tower houses comprise a single square or
rectangular `keep' several storeys high, with strong barrel-vaults tying
together massive outer walls. Many towers had stone slab roofs, often with a
parapet walk. Access could be gained through a ground floor entrance or at
first floor level where a doorway would lead directly to a first floor hall.
Solitary towers were normally accompanied by a small outer enclosure defined
by a timber or stone wall and called a barmkin. 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 and 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 less than half are of the free-
standing or solitary tower type. All surviving solitary towers retaining
significant medieval remains will normally be identified as nationally

Overgrass tower house is well preserved and retains many original features and
significant archaeological deposits. It will make an important contribution to
the study of settlement at this time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ryder, P F, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland: A Survey, (1995), 36-7

Source: Historic England

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