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Dally Castle fortified house and tower house

A Scheduled Monument in Greystead, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.1532 / 55°9'11"N

Longitude: -2.3547 / 2°21'16"W

OS Eastings: 377492.042318

OS Northings: 584379.08677

OS Grid: NY774843

Mapcode National: GBR D80V.0J

Mapcode Global: WH904.SQWT

Entry Name: Dally Castle fortified house and tower house

Scheduled Date: 6 September 1934

Last Amended: 19 March 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018537

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28588

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Greystead

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Falstone with Greystead and Thorneyburn

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a fortified house, later remodelled as a
tower house, of medieval date, situated on the summit of a ridge within a
meander of the Chirden Burn. The upstanding remains are Listed Grade I. The
site of the fortified house has been isolated by the digging of a substantial
ditch, 25m wide and a maximum of 4.5m deep, across the north western part of
the ridge, and by a less substantial ditch across the south eastern side.
Natural protection is afforded on the north east and south western sides by
steep slopes. The fortified house, which is situated between the two ditches,
is visible as a rectangular structure measuring 20.9m north west to south east
by 11.8m north east to south west, with walls of regular sandstone blocks 1.8m
thick. This building is thought to be early 13th century in date and its basic
plan is an upper floor hall house above a columned basement. Each of the long
side walls had three regularly spaced arrow loops, or narrow windows, and each
of the end walls had one loop placed centrally. All of the windows were
blocked soon after building and in the south west corner of the house two of
the windows have been obscured by an internal cupboard and a fireplace. The
most westerly window in the south wall was subsequently replaced by a larger
window, still clearly visible.
In the later 13th and 14th century the house was remodelled into a tower house
and a number of features were added; these include a square tower at the north
west corner, a tower at the north east corner, a pair of butresses on the
north wall and a small tower at the south west corner. It is also thought that
an entire storey was added. A pair of buttresses added to the south wall of
the house are thought to be an even later addition. The original entrance to
the house is thought to have lain in the eastern end of the south wall,
although there is now only a gap in the masonry.
The foundations of a rectangular building, orientated east to west and
measuring 9m by 6.4m, are located 10m east of the house. The building is
thought to be the remains of an associated chapel. Further to the east of the
house, on the eastern side of the smaller ditch, there are further slight
foundations of a small building 3m square.
Dally Castle is believed to be the building erected by David Linsey in
his manor of Chirdon, referred to in a document of 1237 as the `house with
remarkably thick walls in the form of a tower'. The manor was confiscated on
two occasions in 1289 and 1296. On the second occasion it was granted to
John de Swinburne, reverting to the Crown on his death in 1326 when it was
described as `the site of a manor burnt by the Scots'. The fortified
house is not mentioned in the 1415 or the 1541 lists of Border strongholds
but it is known that by 1604 it was held of the Crown and occupied by the
Dodds family. The condition of the house deteriorated; by the 18th century it
was roofless and in the early 19th century little stonework was visible. The
building underwent limited excavation in 1888 when a series of columns forming
part of the basement were removed. The work also uncovered a helmet and part
of a sword. After substantial consolidation in the late 20th century, the
walls are visible standing to a maximum height of 1.8m. Further columns and
other architectural fragments were also uncovered and remain at the site.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Fortified houses were residences belonging to some of the richest and most
powerful members of society. Their design reflects a combination of domestic
and military elements. In some instances, the fortifications may be cosmetic
additions to an otherwise conventional high status dwelling, giving a military
aspect while remaining practically indefensible. They are associated with
individuals or families of high status and their ostentatious architecture
often reflects a high level of expenditure. The nature of the fortification
varies, but can include moats, curtain walls, a gatehouse and other towers,
gunports and crenellated parapets.
Their buildings normally included a hall used as communal space for domestic
and administrative purposes, kitchens, service and storage areas. In later
houses the owners had separate private living apartments, these often
receiving particular architectural emphasis. In common with castles, some
fortified houses had outer courts beyond the main defences in which stables,
brew houses, granaries and barns were located.
Fortified houses were constructed in the medieval period, primarily between
the 15th and 16th centuries, although evidence from earlier periods, such as
the increase in the number of licences to crenellate in the reigns of Edward I
and Edward II, indicates that the origins of the class can be traced further
back. They are found primarily in several areas of lowland England: in upland
areas they are outnumbered by structures such as bastles and tower houses
which fulfilled many of the same functions. As a rare monument type, with
fewer than 200 identified examples, all examples exhibiting significant
surviving archaeological remains are considered of national importance.

Tower houses are a type of defensible house particularly characteristic of the
borderland 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. 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.
Dally Castle and its associated buildings and earthworks are very well
preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. The fortified house
is thought to be the earliest surviving hall house in Northumberland and its
architectural features are of the highest quality. Its subsequent modification
to a tower house enhances its importance and it will add greatly to our
knowledge and understanding of this type of high status medieval dwelling.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ryder, P F, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland: A Survey, (1995), 73-4
Ryder, P F, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland: A Survey, (1995), 73-4
NY78SE 09,

Source: Historic England

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