Ancient Monuments

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Wooler Tower on east side of Church Street

A Scheduled Monument in Wooler, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5466 / 55°32'47"N

Longitude: -2.0127 / 2°0'45"W

OS Eastings: 399295.873759

OS Northings: 628095.238851

OS Grid: NT992280

Mapcode National: GBR G4D9.1J

Mapcode Global: WH9ZJ.1VV9

Entry Name: Wooler Tower on east side of Church Street

Scheduled Date: 17 February 1953

Last Amended: 21 August 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018347

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29337

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Wooler

Built-Up Area: Wooler

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Wooler St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


This monument includes the remains of a medieval tower of early 16th century
date situated on a prominent mound. There are steep slopes on the north and
east, where it falls to Wooler Water. The tower survives as three large blocks
of masonry, one of which, a mass of core material, is believed to lie in situ.
A block lying near a modern war memorial is a section of the corner of the
tower with walls 1.5m thick; the walling is faced with large blocks of
sandstone. To the east of these remains are traces of a slight earthwork
platform. The mound on which these fragments lie is believed to be natural,
rather than artificial, but is the probable site of a 12th century castle with
timber defences which belonged to the Muschamps. Documentary evidence records
that it was disused by 1255 and the site was not reoccupied until the tower
was built in the early 16th century. The tower is first mentioned in 1509 and
in 1526 was referred to as the `new castle'. It was built in reaction to
disturbances on the English-Scottish border and became an important link in
the chain of forts featured in a plan of border defences drawn up by
Christopher Dacre in 1584.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are the war
memorial, its railings and concrete plinth, a bench and its concrete plinth,
although the ground beneath all these features 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. 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

Despite the fragmentary nature of the remains of Wooler Tower and the erection
of a war memorial, the mound has not been greatly disturbed and significant
archaeological remains will survive beneath the ground surface. It was an
important link in the chain of border defences in the 16th century and will
contribute to any study of defences at this time.

Source: Historic England

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