Barrow Peel

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameBarrow Peel
Alternative NamesBarrowe
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishAlwinton

Described in the Survey of 1541 as a ruin. "The old walls of a little fortress belonging to Gerrard Barrowe, which in time past was razed to the ground by the Scots. And so remains still waste for lack of money for repairs." (Not listed in the 1415 Survey. pp 12-20) (Bates 1891).

The modern house at Barrow has been built of the stones of the Pele tower, that stood a few yards to the west, where traces of the foundations may yet be seen. Several copper coins of Charles II reign(1660-1685) have been found in the ruins by Mr John Carruthers. It is many centuries since the tower was ruined, by the Scots invasions (Dixon 1903).

The farmhouse is marked on the OS map as an old pele tower, but no trace of the tower now remains. In 1522 a garrison of 20 men was to be kept at Barrow. At some time between this date and 1541, the tower was taken and burnt (Dodds 1940).

The original size or plan of the Peel cannot now be determined. The site is marked by an irregular-shaped area of hummocks covered with turf, showing some small angular stone. The small farmhouse on the east side, is constructed of well-shaped blocks of stone with very large quoins at the corners. There is also much fashioned stone in the walls of the sheepfold to the north. The farmhouse is now deserted (F1 ASP 07-MAY-57). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Does not seem to have had any archaeological investigation, not even a site visit, since 1957. Shown as a square mound on the 1863 six-inch OS map directly west of the farmhouse (and in subsequent maps until 1980). There is nothing on the modern air photo to suggest this land has been disturbed since then, although the mound is not obviously visible. The date, the description and the fact this was considered as suitable for a garrison of 20 men suggests a solar tower attached to an unfortified hall rather than a pele-house bastle.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNT911061
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 185
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 22
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 36
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 345
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 54
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 59
  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1940, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 15 p. 488-9
  • Dixon, D.D., 1903, Upper Coquetdale Northumberland: Its History, Traditions, Folk-lore and Scenery (Newcastle-upon Tyne: Robert Redpath) p. 36 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 45 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)


  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 45 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Brewer, J.S. (ed), 1867, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII Vol. 3 p. 852 No. 1986 online copy
  • 1541, View of the Castles, Towers, Barmekyns and Fortresses of the Frontier of the East and Middle Marches Survey of the East and Middle Marches