Ancient Monuments

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Hethpool tower house

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5488 / 55°32'55"N

Longitude: -2.1654 / 2°9'55"W

OS Eastings: 389659.923748

OS Northings: 628361.102186

OS Grid: NT896283

Mapcode National: GBR F498.ZQ

Mapcode Global: WH9ZF.QS1K

Entry Name: Hethpool tower house

Scheduled Date: 15 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018439

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31704

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Kirknewton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Kirknewton St Gregory

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the ruins of a 14th century medieval tower house
situated in the garden of Hethpool House, on a tongue of land in the
confluence of the Elsdon and College Burns. The ruin, which is Listed Grade
II, consists of three walls of a square building measuring 7m square. It
stands to a height of two storeys, with the south west and south east walls
measuring 1.6m thick. The north east wall is only 0.6m thick. The south east
wall has an internal set back at first floor level, and a central recess or
window above. The building seems to be unusually small for a permanent
dwelling, but a reference dating to 1541 referred to it as a `lytle stone
house or pyle' at Hethpool `whiche ys a greate releyffe to the tennants'. This
implies that it was used as an occasional refuge.
Fallen masonry on the northern side of the tower is included in the

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.

Hethpool tower is in reasonable condition and retains significant
archaeological information. It will contribute to any future studies of
medieval architecture and settlement patterns.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990), 49

Source: Historic England

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