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Historic England Research Records

Berwick Castle

Hob Uid: 4154
Location :
Northumberland
Berwick-upon-Tweed
Grid Ref : NT9930053400
Summary : The standing remains of Berwick Castle which includes the west wall of the castle, the south east angle tower known as the Constable Tower and a length of curtain wall adjacent to it, as well as the flanking wall known as the White Wall. A castle at Berwick is first mentioned in documents of the 12th century, although most of the remains which are visible today date from a re-modelling of the structure in the late 13th and subsequent centuries. When Edward I captured the town of Berwick from the Scots in 1296 the existing castle was strengthened. At this time an additional length of wall known as the White Wall was constructed. Large sections of this wall have been levelled and survive as foundations however the west wall and parts of the east wall of the castle survive as standing structures. Attached to the southern end of this wall is the south east angle tower, known as the Constable Tower. The upper courses of this tower are constructed of weathered ashlar blocks and are equipped with arrow slits suggesting a late 13th century date. The lower courses of the tower are rougher and less regular and are thought to represent the base of an earlier 12th century tower. At the northern end of this length of wall is a second tower standing to a height of six courses above the raised ground level. The west wall of the castle is also visible above ground standing to a maximum height of 6 metres and up to 4 metres thick. At its northern end are the remains of a semi-circular tower visible as rubble core 12 metres high. This tower is known as Barmekin Tower. At the southern end of the west wall there is a semi circular mid 16th century gun turret. Attached to the south west angle of the castle, the White Wall descends the steep slopes of the Tweed where it terminated at a large wooden gate. A tower constructed at the same time on the site of its medieval predecessor survives well at the present edge of the river. The site is in the care of English Heritage.
More information : [NT 993534] Castle [LB] (remains of) [TI]. (1)

The castle was originally built in the 13th century and continued to be garrisoned until 1603. It was partly demolished in 1641 and largely cleared in 1843 to build the railway station.

All that remains in the western flanking wall and three towers.
Scheduled. (2-4)

Published Survey 1/2500 revised.
See Map Diagrams and G.P.s.(5)

There was a fortress here in the 12th century, but it was often besieged, attacked and altered. In the beginning of the 17th century a large town house was begun on the site, but after 1611 the castle was left to decline. A large part of the stonework was removed for building Holy Trinity Church, and later the greater part of the remains were swept away for the railway station on the site. The west curtain wall survives in part, with steep steps down to the river (end of 13th century), and fragments of towers of the 16th century. AM.

Ruins of the Constable Tower (Part of Berwick Castle). The Constable Tower (probably 13th century) exists fragmentally in the grounds of Castle Vale Hotel.

Wall of Berwick Castle to North of the ruins of Constable Tower. Ruined wall to North of the ruins of Constable Tower. (6)

Additional bibliography. (7-8)

NT 9945 - NT 995531. Old castle wall remainder of Elizabethan
ramparts, scheduled. (9)

NT 993 534. Berwick Castle and White Wall. The visible remains are as follows: The west wall of the 13th century castle and 16th century guntower on the west side. The stepped wall running south from the castle to the water tower with 16th century guntower. The polygonal tower at the SE angle of the castle and to the north an earthern bank covering the surviving part of the twin-towered castlegate. To the west of the polygonal tower a length of curtain wall has been partly rebuilt in the 19th century. The schedule includes the area of Berwick Castle below the railway station and goods yard. (10)

Full bibliography (11a).

NT 993 534. All that remains of the castle is the west wall forming the west boundary of the railway property, with a spur-wall running down to the river, and to the east of the railway in the grounds of Castle Vale House, fragments of a polygonal tower and traces of the castle wall leading north from it. Surveyed by RCHME at 1:1250. (11)

NT 994 533. Berwick castle. Scheduled No ND/16A. (12)

The remains of a medieval castle are visible as a structure on air photographs centred at NT 9932 5340. The remains of Berwick Castle consist of the western wall and three towers.
(16)

Listed by Cathcart King. (17)

Listed. (18)

Despite the Henrician modifications to the castle to accomodate artillery, the survey of Berwick's defences in 1533 had concluded that if the town fell to Scottish or rebel hands, the castle was ill-equipped as a place to retake it, and the town was well-positioned to theaten a loyal garrison in the castle. A further survey of 1550 reached the same conclusion, and the remedy decided on was to create a defendable citadel within Berwick's walls, and the abandonment of the castle as a defensive structure. (19)

An accessible publication containing an overview of the development of Berwick-upon-Tweed Castle. (20)

The castle is discussed in the context of the development of the defences and the town in general. (21)

The castle features in an English Heritage guide to the fortifications of Berwick published in 2011. The guide in particular notes the high level of warlike activity involiving the Castle during the medieval period, including 14 major attacks or seiges between 1216 and 1481, particularly in 1318 following the Scottish victory at Bannockburn.

The role of the castle was superseded from the mid 16th century onwards by developments in town artillery defences and it was then effectively used as a barracks.

In 1641 the castle was sold to the town and used for quarrying stone. It was also subsequently pillaged by soldiers in the Civil Wars of the 1640s. Part of its ruins were flattened by the railway and associated station from 1844. The guide contains a full tour of the town's fortifications, with plans, maps and historical images. (22)

A wreck of a victualling ship bound for the castle took place on 4 June 1318, between the town's capture by the Scots on 8 April and the surrender of the castle itself for want of provisions in late June 1318, thus this wreck (1445730) had a direct impact on the castle. (23)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:2500 1961
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Scott J. 1888. History of Berwick-upon-Tweed, 439-442, plan 142
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Keith Blood and Donnie Mackay/JUN-1988/RCHME: Berwick Survey
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11a
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) : 327-8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : County list of Scheduled Monuments : March 1994
Source details : Northumberland
Page(s) : 16
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 07-Apr-97
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : The fortifications of Berwick-upon-Tweed
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
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Source Number : 15
Source : The White Wall, Berwick-upon-Tweed
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 16
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/87123 0552 18-Jun-1987
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : Bastions and Belligerents: Medieval Strongholds in Northumberland
Source details :
Page(s) : 22-Jul
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 19
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 4 : 1485-1660 (Part 2)
Source details :
Page(s) : 614,642
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 20
Source : Heritage unlocked: Guide to free sites in Yorkshire and the north east
Source details :
Page(s) : 64-65
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
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
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 21
Source : Berwick-upon-Tweed: three places, two nations, one town
Source details :
Page(s) : 3-5, 34-35
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 22
Source : Berwick Barracks and Fortifications
Source details :
Page(s) : 18-20, 26-30
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 23
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Compiler's comments: 13-JUN-2014
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 563-571
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 DS 01-JUN-67
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Berwick upon Tweed 26-MAY-1971
Page(s) : 01-Feb
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 622
Source Number : 7
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details :
Page(s) : 64-66
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 45 (1965)
Source Number : 8
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details :
Page(s) : 615,633,636,642
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1982
Source Number : 9
Source : List of ancient monuments in England: Volume 1, Northern England; Volume 2, Southern England; Volume 3, East Anglia and the Midlands
Source details :
Page(s) : 45
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 10
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : DOE (IAM) Ancient Monuments Record Form Undated
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Built 12th century
Monument End Date : 1200
Monument Start Date : 1101
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Remodelled late 13th century
Monument End Date : 1299
Monument Start Date : 1267
Monument Type : Castle, Angle Tower, Curtain Wall, Interval Tower
Evidence : Ruined Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Further remodelling from 1300
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 1300
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Henrician remodelling
Monument End Date : 1545
Monument Start Date : 1507
Monument Type : Artillery Tower
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Addtion 1540-1550
Monument End Date : 1550
Monument Start Date : 1540
Monument Type : Turret
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Tudor
Display Date : Obsoletee by 1559
Monument End Date : 1559
Monument Start Date : 1559
Monument Type : Artillery Tower, Artillery Castle
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : ND 16A
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 28533
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 237247
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 237248
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 237249
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Northumberland)
External Cross Reference Number : NT 95 SE 1
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 120
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NT 95 SE 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 4160
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1384259
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1384391
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 4287
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1001865
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NT 95 SE 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1967-06-01
End Date : 1967-06-01
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: BERWICK SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1988-05-16
End Date : 1988-06-21
Associated Activities : Primary, WHITE WALL, BERWICK-UPON-TWEED CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1989-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BERWICK CASTLE WALLS
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BERWICK RAILWAY STATION
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BERWICK RAILWAY STATION
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BERWICK RAILWAY STATION
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BERWICK RAILWAY STATION (CAR-PARK)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BERWICK RAILWAY STATION CAR-PARK
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BERWICK RAILWAY STATION CAR-PARK
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: TILL TWEED NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2003-03-27
End Date : 2003-09-29
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT CASTLE TERRACE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WHITE WALL, BERWICK CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT RAILWAY STREET
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31