Morpeth Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameMorpeth Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishMorpeth

Castle gatehouse, stables and curtain wall. Probably founded C13 and some curtain walling may be of this date. Gateway C14 extensively restored C17 and in 1857-8 for the Earl of Carlisle. Squared stone.

Gatehouse: 3 storeys. Moulded plinth. Tudor carriage arch with multi-moulded surround and hoodmould. To left a small C14 window with cusped head. To right a restored looplight. Two 2-light C19 windows with cusped heads to lights,on 1st floor and one on second floor. C19 parapet and corner turrets on close-set triple-step corbels. Gabled roof with end stacks set behind parapet. Pointed tunnel-vaulted passageway containing 2 doorways with Tudor-arched surrounds.

C19 stables attached to rear. Ashlar. Tudor-Gothic style. Single storey, 5 bays.

Extensive remains of curtain wall patched and rebuilt at many different periods. (Listed Building Report)

The present Castle at MORPETH was built 1342-1349(1), the gateway, tower has no portcullis groove, the top is embattled, having corner turrets, the outer walls are shattered and there are no traces of internal buildings (Bates 1891).

Castle was besieged in 1644 and probably never restored (Armitage 1912).

Erected 1342-1359 by WILLIAM de GREYSTOCK (Knowles 1913)

MORPETH CASTLE is situated in a commanding position on top of a hill.

The remains consist of the gatehouse and stretches of curtain wall which probably formed a western bailey or count. The gatehouse at NZ 20018552 is a rectangular building with a central passage running E-W. Extensive renovation has left few traces of antiquity, but those remaining include the arches and segmental vaulting of the passage, two doorways in the passage, and small windows on all sides except the south. The larger windows and the battlements are modern

The gatehouse is in an excellent state of repair and is in use as a private residence.

The remaining stretches of curtain wall (as shown on plan) have an average thickness of 1.0m and rise to a maximum height of 3.0m. They originally consisted of dressed stone facings with a rubble core, but most of the facing has been robbed, leaving the core standing.

On the inside face of the north wall near its western end are the remains of a fireplace and other building traces. These remains possibly indicate the existence of a corner tower.

At NZ 20098551 is a stretch of wall 13.0m long, 4.5m high and 1.2m thick, with two buttresses on the east side. In this wall are the remains of a window and doorway, possibly later insertions. There was insufficient evidence to determine if the fragment was part of the curtain wall of an eastern bailey, or was the remains of an unidentified building. The window and door contained no dateable features.

All the walls are in a poor state of repair (F2 EG 15-MAR-54). (PastScape)

Two hundred metres south of Haw Hill on a prominent hill top is Morpeth Castle, the successor to Haw Hill . Today, it is in a fragmented state and consists of a n isolated gatehouse, sections of curtain wall and a further isolated stretch of wall to the north-east. The remains are surrounded on all sides by steep falls except to the west, where they are defended by a ditch. The original extent of the castle is now uncertain . The 1604 map of Morpeth shows a keep in the middle of a bailey with a gatehouse and an outer ward.

Although early references to a castle at Morpeth may refer either to this site or Haw Hill, It is frequently thought that Morpeth Castle was founded on this site by Roger de Merlay II subsequent to the destruction of Haw Hill by John in 1216 (Hodgson 1832a, 58). Pevsner follows this by suggesting a 13th century date for the castle (1992, 396). However, construction dates of 1342-1359 are given by Bates (1891, 11) and Knowles says that parts were erected by William de Greystock (1920, 243 - 4).

The curtain wall has been patched and repaired many times but parts appear to be early (Pevsner 1992, 397). The gatehouse, which may have been constructed as a courtroom rather than a major defensive work, is of three storeys with a parapet level and turrets above. The passage way has a four-centred entrance arch and pointed tunnel vault with vaulted guardrooms to left and right, both with doors with four-centred arches. The concensus of opinion is that most of the fabric is of the 14 th and 15 th centuries with later restorations . Much damage to the castle occurred in the siege of 1644 during the Civil War, and the first and second floors were heavily restored in 1857-8 for the Earl of Carlisle with further 19th century restoration of parapet and corner turrets. There are 19th century stables to the rear. The gatehouse was repaired and remodelled in 1989-90 by the Landmark Trust and now functions as a holiday home. Archaeological recording was carried out during the restoration work (Ryder 1992, 63 - 77).

Rectified photography and visual fabric analysis of the castle walls (other than the gatehouse) was carried out in 2005. The date of the walling, which is contentious, was not resolved during this work, to a great extent because of modern pointing which masks early mortar which can often be used to chart the development of fabric. Documentary and fabric analysis carried out during this work has indicated that the "outer curtain wall? may never have existed and that an isolated length of stone wall to the north - east may in fact be the remains of a "great barn? mentioned in the account of the Civil War siege. (Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey 2009)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNZ200854
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Calculate Print


  • Geldard, Ed, 2009, Northumberland Strongholds (London: Frances Lincoln) p. 33
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 213-6
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 80-1
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 121-2
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 190-1
  • Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle) p. 90-2 (plan)
  • Pevsner, N. (revised by John Grundy et al), 1992, Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 396
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 5-7, 37, 66-7
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 337
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 262
  • Clack, P. and Gosling, P., 1976 , Archaeology in the North p. 189-90
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 238-42
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 136
  • Fraser, C.M. (ed), 1961, Ancient Petitions relating to Northumberland (Surtees Society 176) p. 109, 132-3, 135
  • Sanders, I.J., 1960, English Baronies. A study of their origin and descent 1086-1327 p. 65
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles (1970 Reprint by Frank Graham) p. 161-3
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 401-02 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 3, 5-6, 11, 13, 26-7 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 202 online copy
  • Gibson, W., 1848, Northumbrian Castles, Churches and Antiquities part 1 p. 123-6 online copy
  • Hodgson, J., 1832, History of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Part 2 Vol. 2 p. 384-9 online copy
  • Grose, Francis, 1785 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 4 p. 128-32
  • Hutchinson, Wm, 1776, A View of Northumberland (Newcastle) Vol. 2 p. 299-300 online copy


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England (Sutton Publishing) p. 342, 343
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 63 online copy


  • Briden, Colin, 2002-3, 'Morpeth Castle' Castle Studies Group Newsletter Vol. 16 p. 30-31 (reprint of Archaeology in Northumbland article)
  • Briden, Colin, 2001-2, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 12 p. 7-8
  • Ryder, P.F., 1992, 'The Gatehouse of Morpeth Castle' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser5) Vol. 20 p. 63-77
  • 1991-92, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 2 p. 6
  • 1990-91, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 1 p. 19
  • 1969 July 5, Newcastle Journal p. 8
  • Hunter Blair, C.H., 1944, 'The Early Castles of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 22 p. 116-70 esp 150-2 (plan)
  • Knowles, W.H., 1913, Archaeologia Aeliana (ser3) Vol. 9 p. 243-4
  • Fergusson, 1903-5, History of the Berwickshire Naturalist Club Vol. 19 p. 279-82 online copy
  • 1902, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 10 p. 238, 240-2 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 3, 5-6, 11, 13, 26-7 online copy
  • 1889, The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend p. 167, 170-1 online copy

Guide Books

  • Tweddle, A.H., 1985, Town Trail for Morpethians (Morpeth Information Centre)

Primary Sources

  • 1415, Nomina Castrorum et Fortaliciorum infra Comitatum Northumbrie online transcription
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 365


  • Northumberland County Council, 2009, 'Morpeth' Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey doi:10.5284/1000177 [download copy >]
  • Constable, Christopher, 2003, Aspects of the archaeology of the castle in the north of England C 1066-1216 (Doctoral thesis, Durham University) Available at Durham E-Theses Online