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Historic England Research Records

St Ebbas Chapel

Hob Uid: 8230
Location :
Northumberland
Northumberland
Beadnell
Grid Ref : NU2395028710
Summary : A 13th century chapel of ease with the remains of a possible seamark, and a probable earlier monastic site visible as earthworks. The monument includes the remains of a post-conquest medieval chapel situated on the rocky promontory known as Ebb's Nook. The chapel is surrounded by a range of earthwork features, some of which are considered to pre-date the chapel and provide evidence for an earlier monastic site here. The chapel is situated at the centre of the complex and measures 17m E-W by 4m N-S. It is thought to date in its present form from the 12th or 13th centuries AD. It consists of a nave, a chancel and a later western annexe, although it is largely overgrown and much of the internal detail uncovered by the excavation of 1853 is obscured. Although other buildings surrounding the chapelwere noted in the 19th century they have only recently been understood. Immediately E of the chapel there is a rectangular stony earthwork measuring 3m N-S by 4m E-W; this is thought to be the remains of an earlier building, built on a slightly different axis to the later chapel. The stone chapel and earlier structure form the S side of a walled enclosure 22m by 13m, the other sides being formed by low rubble walls. This complex is situated at the E end of a larger enclosure 55m by 25m, whose perimeter is formed by a large bank of earth which cuts off the promontory at the W landward end; the bank runs around the edge of the promontory on the W and NE sides and varies in width from 1m to 2m and stands to a maximum height of 1m. The bank is originally thought to have continued along the S side of the promontory, however cliff edge erosion here has left no trace. Within the enclosure there are several hollows at the W end and a linear hollow which cuts the NE perimeter bank; these are interpreted as the result of later quarrying and military activity. A stone circular feature 1.5m in diameter is situated at the extreme E end of the promontory.
More information : [NU 23952871] Chapel [NR] (Remains of). (1)

The remains of this chapel, long covered by drifting sand were
uncovered by Mr Hodgson Hinde in 1853. It is rectangular, measuring
externally 55ft x 16ft with rubble walls two feet thick, and is
divided into a nave and chancel with another division at the west end
of the nave. The nave has two doors, north and south, immediately
opposite one another. The north door had a semi-circular head cut
out of two stones. No traces of any windows remain. In the SE
corner of the nave was a cavity for a piscina and near the south
door a roughly formed stone basin, supposed to be a font The nature
of the roof was indicated by the finding of numerous slates among
the ruins.

The ruins are situated on a rocky point called Ebbs Nook
and it is supposed that the chapel was dedicated to St Ebba.
Its age is not known but Mr Tate visiting the chapel in 1857
ascribed it to the 13th cent. (2) A survey c 1715 states that there
was a chapel of ease at Beadnell where a preacher from Bamburgh
attends once a month (3)

The walls of the chapel remain up to 5 feet in height and are of
limestone rubble. The compartment to the west of the nave uses
chiefly clay as a building medium, and appears from the lack of
bonding to be a subsequent addition, perhaps the lower part of a
tower for a seamark. No sepulchral monuments have been discovered
but rabbit burrowings have occasionally brought to light human bones.
The chapel may have been the retreat of a Saxon recluse, or a
commemorative chapel to the Saxon princess Ebba who died in 683. (4)
The architecture of the doorway indicates a date not earlier than
the 12th cent. (2-5)

The remains of this chapel are very ruinous, consisting of a
rectangular building measuring 15.0m x 4.6m
internally; the walls, where visible, are 0.8m wide
consisting of some dressed stone, but mostly of rubble and mortar.
The building is partially covered by blown sand and reeds; the
interior is sunken with the effect that the walls appear to be high
but actually are only 1.0m in ht topped by sand. The only
architectural feature is an opening in the N wall which is probably
the N door referred to in the NCH; it is 0.5m wide with chamfered
stones at each side. The foundations of a stone wall are traceable
along the N side of the chapel, this may be the churchyard wall 2.0m
wide and 0.4m high covered by a turf bank. It extends from
NU 23942871 to NU 23982872. A notice board on the site reads "Site
of St Ebba's Church Founded about 660 AD. Disused about 1680 AD". (6)
Blown sand and tussocky grass have encroached upon the remains to
such an extent that only the inner faces of parts of the N and S
walls and the E end are now visible. The internal width of the
chapel is 4.0m. The chamfered stones formerly at each side the
opening in the N wall have now collapsed.

The wall, noted by F1 to the N of the chapel, is no longer evident,
but to the NE are the foundations of a N-S wall, 0.9m thick, visible
for 6.0m of its length.

Resurveyed at 1:2500. (7)

NU 2396 2870. St Ebba's chapel and monastic site. Scheduled RSM No
25055. The monument includes the remains of a post-conquest medieval
chapel situated on the rocky promontory known as Ebb's Nook. The
chapel is surrounded by a range of earthwork features, some of which
are considered to pre-date the chapel and provide evidence for an
earlier monastic site here. The chapel is situated at the centre of
the complex and measures 17m E-W by 4m N-S. It is thought to date in
its present form from the 12th or 13th centuries AD. It consists of
a nave, a chancel and a later western annexe, although it is largely
overgrown and much of the internal detail uncovered by the excavation
of 1853 is obscured. Although other buildings surrounding the chapel
were noted in the 19th century they have only recently been
understood. Immediately E of the chapel there is a rectangular stony
earthwork measuring 3m N-S by 4m E-W; this is thought to be the
remains of an earlier building, built on a slightly different axis
to the later chapel. The stone chapel and earlier structure form the
S side of a walled enclosure 22m by 13m, the other sides being formed
by low rubble walls. This complex is situated at the E end of a
larger enclosure 55m by 25m, whose perimeter is formed by a large
bank of earth which cuts off the promontory at the W landward end;
the bank runs around the edge of the promontory on the W and NE sides
and varies in width from 1m to 2m and stands to a maximum height of
1m. The bank is originally thought to have continued along the S side
of the promontory, however cliff edge erosion here has left no trace.
Within the enclosure there are several hollows at the W end and a
linear hollow which cuts the NE perimeter bank; these are interpreted
as the result of later quarrying and military activity. A stone
circular feature 1.5m in diameter is situated at the extreme E end of
the promontory; it is composed of reddened stone and is thought to be
the remains of a hearth associated with the use of the site.

The monastic settlement has for over a century been associated with
St AEbba, the step-daughter of the king of Northumbria AEthelfrith;
though there is no absolute proof of association it is thought that
an early Christian origin for the earthworks at St Ebb's Nook is not
inconsistent with the fact that St AEbba was a devoted Christian who
is known to have founded other monasteries in Northumberland and it
is known that Beadnell was tenurially linked to the Anglian royal
seat at Bamburgh. (8)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6"1925
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : NCH 1 1893 319-22 330 plan on 321 (E Bateson)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Arch Ael 3rd Series 13 1916 4 (J C Hodgson)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : H Berwick NC 24 1919-22 35-6
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Proc SA Newcastle 2nd Series 8 1897 12
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 JHO 24-MAY-55
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 DS 04-MAR-69
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : English Heritage Scheduling Amendment 14/4/94
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Mid or late Saxon
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 650
Monument Type : Monastery
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : C13
Monument End Date : 1299
Monument Start Date : 1200
Monument Type : Chapel Of Ease
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 42
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 25055
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NU 22 NW 7
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : ST EBBA'S CHAPEL
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1893-01-01
End Date : 1893-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON NU 22 NW 7
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1955-05-24
End Date : 1955-05-24
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON NU 22 NW 7
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1969-03-04
End Date : 1969-03-04
Associated Activities : ST EBBA'S CHAPEL, BEADNELL POINT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : ST. EBBA'S CHAPEL, BEADNELL (TIME TEAM)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2011-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31