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Medieval church and graveyard 330m north west of Berwick Castle

A Scheduled Monument in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.776 / 55°46'33"N

Longitude: -2.0154 / 2°0'55"W

OS Eastings: 399134.215106

OS Northings: 653624.812882

OS Grid: NT991536

Mapcode National: GBR G1CN.G9

Mapcode Global: WH9YK.02LX

Entry Name: Medieval church and graveyard 330m north west of Berwick Castle

Scheduled Date: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019902

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32762

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Berwick-upon-Tweed

Built-Up Area: Berwick-upon-Tweed

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Berwick Holy Trinity and St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the known extent of the partially excavated upstanding
remains and the buried below ground remains of a 12th century church and part
of its associated graveyard within the grounds of 21 and 23 Castle Terrace.
The site occupies a high cliff above the left bank of the River Tweed where it
commands extensive views across the Tweed Valley. The church and graveyard,
situated immediately outside the walled medieval town of Berwick upon Tweed,
are thought to have been abandoned as part of the retreat within the town
walls during the Anglo-Scottish wars of the 14th century. A number of
churches mentioned in medieval documents are known to have been abandoned in
Berwick upon Tweed at this time. The remains at Castle Terrace are thought to
represent one of three abandoned churches located in the area to the north
west of the town; these are the nunnery of St Leonard and the churches of St
Lawrence and St Mary. The latter is considered the most likely identification
for this site. The eastern two thirds of the church were uncovered and
partially excavated in 1998 when its plan was revealed and the nature of its
construction examined. This part is visible as the lower courses of the
eastern end of the nave, the chancel, the apse end and a small chapel appended
to the south eastern corner of the nave.
The visible part of the rectangular nave measures 9.5m east to west by 6.5m
within walls which are 2m wide. The walls stand one course high and are
constructed of square masonry set on deep foundations of clay bonded river
cobbles more than 1.4m deep. A narrow stone wall 0.9m wide divides the nave
along its long axis and is thought to have served as seating. Areas of burning
associated with this wall were uncovered by excavation. These contained large
quantities of iron nails and glass.
At the eastern end of the nave there is a rectangular chancel 4.5m by 4.2m
within walls 1.25m thick, set on foundations similar in nature to the nave.
Attached to the eastern end of the chancel there is a semi-circular shaped
apse which measures 3m from east to west within walls 1m wide; on the external
foot of the apse there are three buttresses 0.6m wide and 0.3m deep and the
disturbed remains of a fourth.
Attached to the south eastern corner of the nave there is a rectangular
chamber measuring 5.8m by 5.5m which contains the foundations of a stone
structure against the eastern wall; this chamber is thought to be the remains
of a small chapel with an altar set against its eastern wall. The chamber
overlies part of the surrounding graveyard indicating that the chapel was
added onto the church at a later date.
The 1998 excavation showed that the nave and chancel have a clay floor. The
remains of at least ten graves were identified within the church containing
single and multiple burials; two of the burials situated within the chancel
were excavated and each contained an almost complete skeleton.
The western part of the medieval church including the western third of the
nave survives as a series of buried deposits beneath the present surface of
the ground and remains unexcavated. This part of the nave is thought to be
about 11.5m long.
Surrounding the remains of the church on all sides, there is an associated
medieval graveyard. Areas surrounding the eastern two thirds of the church
were uncovered by excavation; within this area the burials are densely packed
and a total of 45 graves were identified; two of these graves were excavated
to the south of the chancel each containing a single almost complete skeleton.
Disturbance to other graves revealed that below the visible, latest layer of
burials there were further burials, some contained within stone coffins and
some without coffins to a depth of about 1m. The excavators consider that
there are at least 400 burials within the graveyard. Many of the graves are
covered by medieval stone grave markers ranging from single slabs with a
simple decoration to elaborately carved slabs with a wide range of ornate
motifs carved onto their surfaces. The style of the decoration and the nature
of the motifs on the grave slabs indicate that they are of 11th to 12th
century date while some of the plain slabs are thought to be of 14th century
date; it is considered that the graveyard had gone out of use by the middle of
the 14th century. Several of the graves also retain stone head and foot
markers indicating their original size. Large quantities of medieval pottery
were recovered from the church and the graveyard, much of which is thought to
be local in origin and dates from the 12th to the 15th century.
On all sides, the graveyard is thought to extend beyond the limit of the area
uncovered in 1998 as graves were discovered to continue up to the limits of
the exposed areas, and boundaries indicating the extent of the graveyard were
absent. Beyond the exposed areas, the graveyard survives as a series of buried
features below the present level of the ground. Newspaper reports in the
Berwick Advertiser in March 1941 refer to the discovery of human remains in
several different areas of 21 Castle Terrace and when the present house at 23
Castle Terrace was built, immediately to the west of the west end of the
church, a human skull was recovered.
Further information about the original extent of the graveyard is contained
within a Local Board of Health plan of Berwick upon Tweed dated to 1852. This
map depicts a large plot of land immediately south of the Duns road; it is
thought that the boundaries of this plot reflect an early allotment on the
site which contained the church and graveyard. The allotment is bounded on the
north by the south side of Duns road and on the south side by the steep
natural break of slope, both of which form the present property boundaries of
the eastern half of Castle Terrace. The eastern boundary of the allotment lies
190m east of the remains of the medieval church where it forms the eastern
limit of Castle Terrace. The western boundary of the allotment lies in a
similar position, although on a slightly different alignment, to the present
western property boundary of 23 Castle Terrace.
The house and garage at 23 Castle Terrace, all areas of hardstanding and the
surface of the metalled drive are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A parish church is a building, usually of roughly rectangular outline and
containing a range of furnishings and fittings appropriate to its use for
Christian worship by a secular community, whose members gather in it on
Sundays and on the occasion of religious festivals. Children are initiated
into the Christian religion at the church's font and the dead are buried in
its churchyard. Parish churches were designed for congregational worship and
are generally divided into two main parts: the nave, which provides
accommodation for the laity, and the chancel, which is the main domain of the
priest and contains the principal altar. Either or both parts are sometimes
provided with aisles, giving additional accommodation or spaces for additional
altars. Most parish churches also possess towers, generally at the west
end, but central towers at the crossing of nave and chancel are not uncommon
and some churches have a free-standing or irregularly sited tower. Many parish
churches also possess transepts at the crossing of chancel and nave, and south
or north porches are also common. The main periods of parish church foundation
were in the 10th to 11th and 19th centuries. Most medieval churches were
rebuilt and modified on a number of occasions and hence the visible fabric of
the church will be of several different dates, with in some cases little
fabric of the first church being still easily visible.
Parish churches are found throughout England. Their distribution reflects the
density of population at the time they were founded. In regions of dispersed
settlement parishes were often large and churches less numerous. The densest
clusters of parish churches were found in thriving medieval towns. A survey of
1625 reported the existence of nearly 9000 parish churches in England. New
churches built in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries increased numbers to
around 18,000 of which 17,000 remain in ecclesiastical use. Parish churches
have always been major features of the landscape and a major focus of life for
their parishioners. They provide important insights into medieval and later
population levels or economic cycles, religious activity, artistic endeavour
and technical achievement. A significant number of surviving examples are
identified to be nationally important.

The sites of abandoned churches, where positively identified, are particularly
worthy of statutory protection as they and their surrounding graveyards were
often left largely undisturbed and thus retain important information about the
nature and date of their use up to their abandonment.
The medieval church at Castle Terrace, survives reasonably well, and its
associated graveyard is very well-preserved with little post-medieval
disturbance. The church is known to be one of Berwick upon Tweed's lost
inter-mural churches and will provide important information about its
construction, use and adaptation. In addition it will provide an insight into
the early medieval town of Berwick as it fluctuated between English and
Scottish control. The excellent nature of the survival of the associated
graveyard provides a rare opportunity for study of the topography of a
medieval graveyard. The burials themselves will provide important information
on burial practice and study of the skeletal remains will provide a major
insight into the medieval population of the town. The ornately carved grave
slabs reflect the status of some individuals, and they form an unusual and
important collection of medieval carved grave slabs in their own right.

Source: Historic England


Local Board of Health Plan of Berwick upon Tweed, (1852)
The Archaeological Practice, Rescue Recording of a Church and Graveyard: 21 Castle Terrace, 1999,
The Archaeological Practice, Rescue Recording of a Church and Graveyard: 21 Castle Terrace, 1999,

Source: Historic England

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