Chirdon Pele, Greystead

Has been described as a Questionable Pele Tower, and also as a Questionable Bastle

There are no visible remains

NameChirdon Pele, Greystead
Alternative NamesChirdan Pele; Cherdon
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishGreystead

In a survey made in about 1715 Chirdon is referred to as an 'ancient pile'. Earlier documents, from C13, record Sir David Lindsay as having land at Chirdon and only a few years before he was said to be building a tower house. Although this tower was once thought to have stood at Chirdon, there is no trace of any such building and the tower is now believed to have been Dally Castle and not Chirdon. (Keys to the Past)

A survey of c.1715 refers to "Cherdon: an ancient pile and small rill on ye south side of ye river of ye same name..." (Hodgson 1916)

In 1255 Henry III confirmed an earlier grant of Chirdon to David De Lindesay. In 1237 Hugh Bolbec complained to Henry III that Sir David Lindsay was building a strong house in the form of a tower. This tower has been identified with Dally Castle (NY 7859) but it may equally well have been at Chirdon although if so it has completely disappeared (Dodds 1940).

There can be little doubt that the tower built by David De Lindesey, and mentioned in a document of 1237, is Dally Castle on the north bank of Chirdon Burn (Bates 1891).

Old Chirdon at NY 76178401 is now a derelict barn, but existing windows, doorways and ceilings indicate that it was formerly a farmhouse; there is no architectural evidence visible which will date the structure, but the walling and woodwork is firm, and it does not appear to be of archaeological interest; at no point within the fabric is there evidence of an earlier structure which might be associated with a Pele tower.

Extensive perambulation in the neighbourhood of New and Old Chirdon revealed no surface indications or foundations of a Pele

There are several pronounced field banks in the proximity of Old Chirdon, but these are doubtless contemporary with the early farmstead, the early foundations of only one small building was found, this measures 5.0 m x 5.0 m and is conjectured to have been an outbuilding or beast house to the farm (F1 FDC 03-AUG-56).

Dodds has noted an arch in the south-west wall of old Chirdon Farm which he believes to have been the end of a vault (Dodds 1999). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

The tower recorded in the C13 almost certainly was Dally Castle but the survey of 1715 does seem to be refering to something at Cherdon. What the 'ancient pile' was may be open to question. In this area most farmsteads were pele-house type bastles and many authors have had difficulty differentiating between pele-houses (generally two storey farm houses) and pele-towers (three storey chamber blocks). The 'derelict barn' at Old Chirdon seems to have last been examined archaeologically in 1955, although Dodds, who is not a buildings historian, thought there was evidence of a vault. A new survey of this building may be informative.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY761830
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 307
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 110
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 84
  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1940, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 15 p. 273
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 55-6 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)


  • Hodgson, J.C., 1916, 'List of Ruined Towers, Chapels, etc., in Northumberland; compiled about 1715 by John Warburton, Somerset Herald, aided by John Horsley' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser3) Vol. 13 p. 14 abridged transcription
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 55-6 online copy