Lowick Motte

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameLowick Motte
Alternative NamesLow Steads
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishLowick

Ring-shaped enclosure with single rampart. Area approx. 1/4 acre. The situation is on the tip of a promontary formed by the junction of two small valleys a little over the 200 foot contour. The main earthwork has been formed by cutting off the promontory by a deep ditch. Spoil from this ditch has been used to form a strong inner rampart on the SE side of the enclosed area which has been scarped to form an almost perfect circle. On the west side the scarping has encountered a slight shoulder in the natural slope, resulting in the formation of a slight outer ditch at this point. The main ditch has an average width of 13.0m. The inner bank has a maximum height of 2.5m internally and 5.0m above the bottom of the ditch. The only entrance to the enclosed area is to the NW where there is a slight lowering of the lip and a causeway to ease the steep scarped slope. There is a slight rampart on the edge of the scarped slope on each side of the entrance. The bracken covered interior shows no traces of habitation. The profile of the slopes is sharp and very little silting up of the ditch has occurred. It is concluded that this earthwork is a ring castle of early mediaeval date. Centred NU 03323950. To the immediate south of the above are the remains of an enclosure that apparently consisted of two concentric ramparts. To the north the ramparts have been destroyed by the later ditch of the ring castle, while to the east all traces have been obliterated by cultivation. The two ramparts consist of banks of earth and stone. The inner bank has an average width of 6.0m and a maximum height of 1.0m while the outer bank has corresponding dimensions of 5.0m and 0.8m. There is a gap, possibly an entrance, on the south side. The bracken-covered interior shows no traces of occupation. The situation is on level ground with the natural slopes of a small valley immediately to the west

The remains are too fragmentary for any certain conclusions, but the nature of construction and dimensions of the banks are similar to earthworks discovered in the Cheviot Hills, which have yet to be classified as to period, but whose purpose was possibly pastoral. There are streams forming adjacent sources of water for both earthworks (OS). The ring castle and adjacent earthwork are as described. No entrance is apparent in the south side of the earlier earthwork. Only the scarp of the inner bank of this work is evident, a later field bank a dike having been built on top; the footings of the later bank continue for some distance south of the earthwork (F1 EG 16-NOV-55). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Presumably a Norman enlargement of an earlier (? prehistoric) enclosure. The lack of later history suggests early abandonment. Seemingly missed by D.J.C. King and may have been considered as purely pre-historic by Hogg and this view may have influenced him.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNU033395
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  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 77
  • Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle) p. 85 (plan)
  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1935, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 14 p. 63,98


  • Hogg, A.H.A. 1947, 'A new list of the native sites of Northumberland' Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser4) Vol. 11 p. 153