Lindisfarne; The Palace Supply Base

Has been described as a Questionable Palace (Bishop/Other), and also as a Questionable Artillery Fort

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameLindisfarne; The Palace Supply Base
Alternative Namesholy Iland
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishHoly Island

There are the remains of a group of medieval buildings within an enclosure. It stands to the east of Holy Island village close to Lindisfarne Priory. Traces of a number of ranges of buildings can be seen standing within the walled enclosure. There are historic records from C15 that a house called Harbottle Place probably stood at this site. In the Tudor period it was converted into a military supply base. A survey of 1548 called the buildings the 'Queen's storehouse' and states that there was '…also another house in the towne called the Pallace, which is the newe brewhouse and bakehouse. By 1596 the brewing vats were out of use. The buildings were abandoned and fell into ruin. A map of 1792 shows only a single building in the north-east of the site. Work carried out here in 2000, for the Time Team programme on Channel 4, exposed remains of a Tudor victualling yard. These included a large masonry brewhouse with the settings for a mash tun and a fermenting tun. There was also evidence of a cellar, storehouse, possible malthouse and courtyard. (Keys to the Past)

"The Palace”, known from documentary evidence as a medieval house and latterly Tudor supply base with brewhouse and bakehouse, lies on the eastern edge of the village indicating that the medieval extent of the settlement, in this direction at least, may have been similar to that of the present day. Although the origin of its name is uncertain it is possible that it derives from its earlier name of Harbottle Place. Such a shift from “Place” to “Palace” is quite common in the north east. At the beginning of the 15th century it belonged to John Jenkyn who later sold it to a John Harbottle of Berwick. In 1462 he used the property as security for a loan which he redeemed. In 1482 the property was sold to John Reyd and in 1485 conveyed again, this time in three parcels

In 1514 two of the parcels were sold to the Prior of Durham and when the monastery was dissolved it was passed, along with the monastery to the Crown. It is not clear what form the medieval house took, although the remains of some of the buildings do suggest that the medieval fabric still survives. The layout of the site suggests that it was a courtyard house. (Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey)

The complex originated as a domestic house the form of which seems unusual. With the exception of bastles and tower houses, few domestic houses of this date survive in Northumberland. The form of this one, apparently an undefended 'courtyard' type house, makes it a rare survival. As such it would contribute to any study of developing and changing forms of medieval domestic housing in Northumberland. The extent of survival is particularly good. Large stretches of walling remain upstanding and allow the form and arrangement of the building complex to be reconstructed. A significant depth of buried remains are present at the site. These will retain important information on the history of use of the site as well as further important information on its structural form. Although originally privately owned, the complex of buildings passed into the hands of the adjacent priory. A recent study has argued that it may have stood within the north east corner of the early monastic precinct. The surviving remains will retain information on how the complex was used during this period and will thereby contribute to any study of the monastic community. Apart from the priory complex and the parish church this is the only significant medieval survival on the island. As such it will contribute to any study of the medieval settlement of Holy Island. After the Dissolution the complex functioned for a while as a victualling and armaments centre for the forces of Elizabeth I. The military use of this and other sites on Holy Island at this period must be seen in the context of a wider system of coastal defence stretching along the east coast, the construction of which was initiated by Henry VIII. During Elizabeth's reign the continued threat posed by Scotland, along with threats of invasion from Spain or the Spanish Netherlands, necessitated continued strengthening and maintenance of the coastal defences. Surviving Elizabethan fortifications are extremely rare, with fewer than ten recognised examples in England as a whole. In view of this rarity all examples will be identified as nationally important. The best surviving examples are the defences of Berwick-upon-Tweed, which formed the northern extent of this particular defence system. Whilst not a fortification in its own right, this complex is important in providing an insight into how the Elizabethan coastal defence system here was supported. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Within the TimeTeam programme a suggestion was made that an arrow head artillery bastions can be traced in layout left in village street plan. This suggestion doesn't seem to have been taken up by later studies and the evidence was weak. However, earthwork defenses of this strategically important centre on the vulnerable north side can not be excluded.

- 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 ReferenceNU127419
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

No photos available. If you can provide pictures please contact Castlefacts

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Colvin, H.M., Ransome, D.R. and Summerson, John, 1982, The history of the King's Works Vol. 4: 1485-1660 (part 2) (London) p. 674-9
  • Raine, J., 1852, History and Antiquities of North Durham (London) p. 155


  • Williams, E., 2000, 'Archaeological notes - 2000, North Northumberland. Holy Island, 'The Palace' Marygate' History of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club Vol. 48 Part 2 p. 199
  • Ryder, P.F., 1993-94, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 4 p. 33

Primary Sources

  • Sir Robert Bowes, 1550, A Book of the State of the Frontiers and Marches betwixt England and Scotland taken from Brit. Mus. Cotton. MS. Titus, F.13, a copy of the original (see Bates, 51, n185). Printed in Hodgson, [pt.3, ii, 187, 205 >]


  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk North East Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 13 online copy
  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk North East Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 15 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 15 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 16 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 31, 40 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 29, 39 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 28 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 37 online copy
  • Northumberland County Council, 2009, 'Holy Island' Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey doi:10.5284/1000177 [download copy >]
  • Time Team (Mike Aston et al), 2001 (1st broadcast), 'Holy Island, Northumberland' Time Team TV Programme (Time Team, a Videotext/Picture House production for Channel 4) view online
  • Gater, J., 2000, Geophysical Survey: Holy Island, Northumberland (Report No. 2000/60. Geophysical Surveys of Bradford (GSB Prospection): Thornton, Bradford) online copy
  • Fraser, R., 2000, Project Design for The Palace, Holy Island Unpublished
  • Ryder, P., 2000, The Palace, Holy Island: A Provisional Archaeological Assessment Unpublished Report