Ancient Monuments

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Coldmartin Tower, 260m north east of Tower Martin

A Scheduled Monument in Wooler, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.536 / 55°32'9"N

Longitude: -1.9873 / 1°59'14"W

OS Eastings: 400901.209575

OS Northings: 626914.25132

OS Grid: NU009269

Mapcode National: GBR G4KF.KB

Mapcode Global: WH9ZQ.F3XW

Entry Name: Coldmartin Tower, 260m north east of Tower Martin

Scheduled Date: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018373

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31706

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: 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 ruined remains of a medieval tower house known as
Coldmartin Tower. It lies on a gently sloping hillside with excellent views to
the west, overlooking the valley of Wooler Water and to the Cheviots beyond.
The tower is rectangular in plan and measures around 10m east-west by 9m. The
south wall, of coursed roughly squared blocks, stands 2.5m high and measures
1.6m thick; the internal facing has been removed except for one course at
ground level, but the ragged core overhangs in a way suggestive of the
springing of an east-west vault. The west wall stands one or two courses high
for most of its length, but only a few stones of the north and east walls are
exposed. The interior of the tower is raised above the surrounding ground
level and has an uneven surface, probably composed of fallen masonry from the
tower. One stone appears to have been reused from an earlier structure as it
bears a cup mark of Bronze Age date. Against the south wall are traces of the
stone foundation of an adjacent rectangular structure measuring around 7m by
3m and of unknown function. Coldmartin Tower is first mentioned in documents
in 1584 when it was the property of Roger Fowberry and was described as
`utterly decayed'.

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.

Coldmartin Tower north east of Tower Martin survives in reasonable condition.
The surviving upstanding remains indicate the extent of the tower and
archaeological deposits will survive beneath fallen debris.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ryder, P F, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland: A Survey, (1995), 3

Source: Historic England

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