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Historic England Research Records

Wark On Tweed Castle

Hob Uid: 1143
Location :
Northumberland
Northumberland
Carham
Grid Ref : NT8236038690
Summary : Earthwork remains of an early 12th-century motte-and-bailey castle, refortified in 1157-61 and in the early 13th century when an octagonal shell keep was raised on the motte and a curtain wall, with towers and a gatehouse were constructed. In the south east corner the outer ward replaced the early bailey defences. Probably dismantled after disarmed in 1639. The visible remains of the castle largely relate to the 16th century building phases as the medieval castle was partly demolished and re-built on numerous occasions. The Inner Ward consists of a mound 11 metres high with a base diameter of 50 metres which appears to be a simple motte but must be, in fact mainly the remains of an artillery platform, 'the ring' of 1543, enclosing a masonry tower of earlier date. The top of the mound has been disturbed by excavations in 1862. The curtain wall of the Middle Ward survives as a bank 1.4 metres high running down the north slope of the mound and as a bank 3 metres high with visible masonry on the east slope of the mound, fading into natural slopes as it curves north-eastward. The Middle and Outer Wards are divided by a massive scarp, up to 7.5 metres high. No definite trace of the defences of the Outer Ward is now visible. Scheduled.
More information : [NT 82363869] Wark Castle [N.R.] Remains of [T.I.]. (1)

An early 12th century motte and bailey built at the east end of a
gravel ridge, and cut off from it by a deep ditch. The motte is also
separated from the bailey, to the N.E., by a ditch (probably
originally palisaded), and the River Tweed forms the north boundary. It was refortified in 1158, and by the early 13th century an octagonal shell keep had been raised on the motte and a curtain, with towers, and a gatehouse in the S.E. of the outer ward replaced the earlier bailey defences. Probably dismantled in 1549. (2-3)

Scheduled. For the designation record of this site please see The National Heritage List for England. (4, 4a, 4b)

Resurveyed at 1:2500. Generally correctly described, except that the ditch between motte and bailey is no longer discernible. Fragments of the Bailey curtain are extant; but no trace of the keep, gatehouse or towers survives. The outer ward (probable burgus) is covered by modern development, and its extent can only be estimated by changes in ground level. See Ground Photo Ao 55/277/1 for NE aspect of motte. (5)

Listed. For the designation record of this site please see The National Heritage List for England. (6-7, 7a)

Wark Castle mound (NT 8235 3871), which was probably originally a motte, occupies the top of a kaim, or glacial ridge, at a point where it lies close to the river and adjacent to an ancient ford. This was the principal crossing point on the Tweed before the bridge was built at Coldstream 2km to the east. The Middle and Outer wards of the castle are arranged to the east of the mound and occupy the area from the crest of the kaim to the river cliff. The Outer Ward, which was intended as a place of refuge for the people of the district, their horses and cattle (8a), occupied a large part of the present village.
The visible remains of the castle must largely relate to the 16th-
century building phases as the medieval castle was partly demolished and re-built on numerous occasions. The Inner Ward consists of a mound 11m high with a base diameter of 50m which appears to be a simple motte but must be, in fact, mainly the remains of an artillery platform, "the Ring" of 1543 (8b), enclosing a masonry tower of earlier date. The vertical stonework visible on the west and north sides of the mound is the outer face of "the Ring" while the sloping masonry on the south side may be stone-cladding on the original motte on which "the Ring" stood. The top of the mound has been disturbed by the excavations of 1862 (8c and d) and the trace of a flight of steps, of unknown date, is visible on the east side leading into the Middle Ward. The river wall of the Middle Ward still stands below the garden of Castle Cottage (NT 8237 3878 - NT 8243 3878) to a height of 1.5m. At a lower level is another surviving length of wall-face containing the outfall of a substantial drain (NT 8238 3878). Elsewhere the curtain wall of the Middle Ward survives as a bank 1.4m high running down the north slope of the mound and as a bank 3m high with visible masonry on the east slope of the mound, fading into natural slopes as it curves north-eastward. The Middle and Outer Wards are divided by a massive scarp, up to 7.5m high. No definite trace of the defences of the Outer Ward is now visible. The Great Gatehouse at the east end probably stood at about NT 8255 3864.
The deeply cut hollow-way to the south of this point may be following the line of the defences. Similarly, a drop of 2m from the garden of "Waterside" to the path which runs along its east side (NT 8255 3870 - NT 8255 3877) may indicate the perimeter. There is no trace of the river wall of the Outer Ward except by the junction with the Middle Ward (NT 8246 3878) where a fragment of wall-face about 8m long survives precariously on top of the cliff. According to Johnson's plan of 1561 (Authority 3) the "Town" of Wark was protected by an earthwork. This cannot be traced but its east end was almost certainly formed by the large hollow-way which still forms the east end of the village (NT 8275 3859 - NT 8275 3876).
Further details are given in the account which accompanies the 1:500 and 1:1000 plans made by RCHME in 1992, held in the NMR Archive. (8)

Motte and two baileys , walled in stone with little flanking, much of it built 1157-61. Beseiged on numerous occasions. (10)

A medieval motte and bailey are visible as earthworks on air photographs centred at NT 8236 3869. The motte is oval in form and measures 38m NWW SEE by 40m NNE SSW.
(11-12)

The original motte and bailey castle of Walter Espec was razed after 1138 when it was besieged by King David of Scotland. Rebuilt in stone by Henry II in 1158. The castle is last documented in 1639 when its armament was removed. (13)

The Scots destroyed Wark Castle in 1138. It was rebuilt in 1157 and remained a royal possession until 1200. (20)

Further reference. (21)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1957
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Archaeologia Aeliana : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details :
Page(s) : 155-60
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 22 - 1944
Source Number : 8
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Mark Bowden/18-May-1992/RCHME: Wark-on-Tweed Castle Survey
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8a
Source : Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne
Source details : Bates CJ. 1891. The Border Holds of Northumberland
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1891
Source Number : 8b
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 4 : 1485-1660 (Part 2)
Source details :
Page(s) : 688-694
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8c
Source : History of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club
Source details :
Page(s) : 61-6
Figs. :
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Vol(s) : 1890
Source Number : 8d
Source : History of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club
Source details :
Page(s) : 61-6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 5, 1863-68
Source Number : 10
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands
Source details :
Page(s) : 343
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/765 4123 03-Sep-1945
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 12
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR NT 8238/3-5 (8044/47-49) 16-Jul-1951
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 13
Source : Bastions and Belligerents: Medieval Strongholds in Northumberland
Source details :
Page(s) : 36-9
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : Wark-on-Tweed Castle/ink survey 1
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 3
Source : History of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club
Source details :
Page(s) : 76-103
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 29 - 1935
Source Number : 15
Source : Wark-on-Tweed Castle/pencil survey 1
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 16
Source : Wark-on-Tweed Castle/pencil sketch 2
Source details :
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Source Number : 17
Source : Wark-on-Tweed Castle
Source details :
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Source Number : 18
Source : Durham SAMs
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 20
Source : Castles, conquest and charters : collected papers
Source details :
Page(s) : 120
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 21
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 852-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Ancient monuments in England and Wales : a list prepared by the Ministry of Public Building and Works, corrected to 31st December 1963
Source details :
Page(s) : 83
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4A
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : Northumberland, 26-NOV-1932, amended 23-MAR-1995
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4B
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage. 2013. ‘English Heritage: The National Heritage List for England’, < http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1013100 > [Accessed 18-MAR-2013]
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 RWEmsley/03-JAN-1967/OS Archaeology Division Field Investigation
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Provisional List; Glendale Rural District, AUG-1949, 2
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Northumberland, 21-Sep-1951
Page(s) : 9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1407
Source Number : 7A
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : English Heritage. 2013. ‘English Heritage: The National Heritage List for England’, < http://list.english-heritage.org.uk/resultsingle.aspx?uid=1153601 > [Accessed 18-MAR-2013]
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : built early C12
Monument End Date : 1132
Monument Start Date : 1100
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : refortified 1157-1161
Monument End Date : 1161
Monument Start Date : 1157
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : refortified early C13
Monument End Date : 1232
Monument Start Date : 1200
Monument Type : Shell Keep, Curtain Wall
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Keep remodelled to take artillery 1519
Monument End Date : 1519
Monument Start Date : 1519
Monument Type : Keep, Artillery Castle
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Refortified 1538-51
Monument End Date : 1551
Monument Start Date : 1538
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : documented 1543
Monument End Date : 1543
Monument Start Date : 1543
Monument Type : Sconce
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Armaments removed 1639
Monument End Date : 1639
Monument Start Date : 1639
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : ND 81
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Northumberland)
External Cross Reference Number : NT 83 NW 5
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1013100
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1153601
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 24594
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 237980
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NT 83 NW 5
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : WARK CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1862-01-01
End Date : 1862-12-31
Associated Activities : RCHME: WARK-ON-TWEED CASTLE SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1992-03-05
End Date : 1992-05-18
Associated Activities : CASTLE COTTAGE, WARK CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : BLUE ROW GARDENS, WARK-ON-TWEED
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : ENGLISH HERITAGE: TILL TWEED NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2003-03-27
End Date : 2003-09-29
Associated Activities : WARK-ON-TWEED CASTLE
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT WARK CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31