Castle Eden

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Other/Unknown), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are no visible remains

NameCastle Eden
Alternative NamesEdena
Historic CountryDurham
Modern AuthorityDurham
1974 AuthorityCounty Durham
Civil ParishCastle Eden

Despite the fact that there are few surface indications, the medieval complex at Castle Eden survives well as a series of buried features below the surface of the ground. The existence of an earlier medieval settlement, subsequently replaced by a nucleated village during the Middle Ages, adds to the importance of the monument and will contribute to our understanding of the early and later medieval settlement in the region.

The monument includes the remains of the medieval village of Castle Eden, a large moated site, and an early medieval timber building revealed by excavation in 1974. Excavation also uncovered an area of cultivation, thought to represent the remains of early fields in the area. The complex is situated on the south side of the Castle Eden Dene, in a field immediately north of the reconstructed 12th century church and cemetery of St James. This field was also the location of a fine Anglo-Saxon vessel known as a claw beaker discovered in 1775 by workmen removing a hedge. An early medieval settlement at Castle Eden is mentioned in an 11th century document in which it is referred to as 'Iodene Australem'. This manor formed the focus of a compact estate comprising several other small townships. The manor became the property of the church during the 12th century and the medieval village which developed is mentioned in several later documents. Most of the surface remains of the village were removed by emparkment in the 18th century but they are known through excavation to survive below ground level as buried features. The earliest known settlement remains at the monument are situated close to the original 12th century church. Excavation here uncovered the foundation trench of a timber building and an associated post hole; these structural features were associated with some of the earliest pottery discovered at the site and are thought to be the remains of a timber building of 12th century or earlier date

After the Norman Conquest the settlement was reorganized and the focus shifted slightly to the north east where the remains of a planned medieval village were partly uncovered in 1974. This settlement consisted of a surfaced track running north from the medieval church with several timber structures containing fireplaces aligned along its eastern side; these structures are interpreted as the remains of a row of medieval houses; pottery discovered in these houses indicated that they were still occupied in the 14th and 15th centuries. Immediately to the rear of these houses an area of ploughing was uncovered, thought to be slightly later in date. It is considered that a row of similar houses survives below ground on the western side of the metalled trackway. At the extreme northern end of the monument, a substantial ditch, 10.8m wide and at least 1.4m deep was uncovered, which had clearly once been water filled; a piece of medieval pottery from a jug thought to be of 12th or 13th century date was discovered within the infilled ditch. This feature was associated with the levelled remains of a large timber building retaining cobbled floors and the remains of fireplaces. The large quantity of medieval pottery which was found in association with this building suggests that it had been removed by the late 15th or early 16th century. It has been suggested that these features are the remains of the original castle, possibly a moated site, at Castle Eden which is mentioned in an early 12th century document. (Scheduling Report)

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 ReferenceNZ427388
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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles and Tower Houses of County Durham (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 33
  • Jackson, M.J., 1996, Castles of Durham and Cleveland (Carlisle) p. 32
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 138
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 354
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 286 (slight and located in Westmorland!) online copy
  • Whellan, F., 1894 (2edn), History, Topography and Directory of the County of Durham p. 770
  • Surtees, R., 1816 (1910 Reprint), The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham Vol. 3 p. 52- online copy
  • Hutchinson, Wm, 1785-94, The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham (London) Vol. 3 p. 1-2 online copy


  • Austin, D., 1987, 'The Medieval Settlement and Landscape of Castle Eden' Durham Archaeological Journal Vol. 3 p. 57-78

Primary Sources

  • Farrer, Wm. (ed), 1915, Early Yorkshire Charters (Edinburgh) Vol. 2 p. 2-3 (chapel of castle 1143-1152) online 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