Scargill Castle, Barningham

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Manor House, and also as a Possible Pele Tower

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameScargill Castle, Barningham
Alternative Names
Historic CountryYorkshire
Modern AuthorityDurham
1974 AuthorityCounty Durham
Civil ParishScargill

The remains of a fortified house, a settlement and part of a field system of medieval date situated in the fields surrounding Castle Farm and Scargill Farm. The fortified house now stands among modern farm buildings 50m south-east of Castle Farm. The house was built during C13 and partially rebuilt during the C15. The remains now comprise a gatehouse, standing to full height, with the remains of 4 adjacent ranges around a main courtyard to the east. An outer courtyard is attached to the south side of the south range. The settlement survives as a series of earthworks situated to the west of the fortified house. Two areas of ridge and furrow lying to the south and west of the house represent the remains of the extensive former field system. (PastScape)

The monument includes the remains of a fortified house, a settlement and part of a field system of medieval date, situated in the fields surrounding Castle Farm and Scargill Farm. The monument is divided into four separate areas of protection. The fortified house is a Listed Building Grade II-star. The medieval chapel, 350m east of the monument, is the subject of a separate scheduling. The fortified house and its attached enclosure, which are contained within the first area of protection, stand among modern farm buildings 50m south east of Castle Farm. The house was constructed during the 13th century and partially rebuilt during the 15th century. It was the seat of the Scargill family and it is thought that Edward II was entertained at the house during a visit to Scargill in 1323. The most obvious surviving ruin is the gatehouse, standing to full height with the remains of four adjacent ranges placed around a main courtyard lying to its east. An outer courtyard is attached to the south side of the south range. The gatehouse, constructed of large squared sandstone blocks, is a roughly square building measuring 9m across. It stands three storeys high, and retains part of a tiled roof

There are arched entrances through the east and west walls, now partially blocked, which lead into an entrance passageway; the roof of this passage is supported by three medieval moulded wooden beams. A doorway opens from the northern wall of the entrance passageway and leads into a spiral stair turret from which a semicircular stairwell gives access to the upper storeys of the gatehouse. There are rectangular windows through the east and west walls of the gatehouse at first floor level and a fireplace in the south wall. On the second floor there are also rectangular windows in the east and west walls. Part of an original chimney projects from the south side of the gatehouse at first floor level. The gatehouse gave access to a rectangular courtyard, now used as the farmyard for the present farm. On all four sides of the courtyard there are the remains of rectangular ranges of buildings; the ranges are visible as lengths of walling standing from about six courses high to more than 20 courses high; other parts of the ranges are not visible above ground level but they survive below the ground as buried foundations. The western wall of the west range, from which the gatehouse projects, survives above ground level for its full length; it is visible as a fragment of wall running north from the gatehouse, and as a length of wall, 11m long standing to its original height of about 26 courses, extending south from the gatehouse. The latter section also contains a square headed window. At its southern end, this length of wall has been reduced to its lower courses by stone robbing and it clearly runs southwards beyond the south wall of the courtyard. The north, east and south walls of this range are considered to survive below the present surface of the ground as buried features. The south range of the fortified house survives largely below ground level as buried foundations, with the exception of a length of its north wall. There are the remains of a square-headed doorway, now blocked, in this section of wall. The east range of the fortified house survives largely as buried lower courses; those forming its east wall were visible until the mid-1980s when they were buried beneath the concrete of the present farmyard. The southern part of the west wall, and the south end wall of this range, stand to about 20 courses high; the jambs of a doorway are visible in the latter. The south eastern corner of this range also survives as a standing structure, as does a short length of the east wall at the south and north ends. The medieval wall at the south end contains the lower parts of a pair of door jambs interpreted as a doorway which once gave access to further structures immediately east of the east range; the visible foundations of a wall in this area are interpreted as part of an associated structure; however, the position and full extent of these buildings is not yet understood and further remains may survive beyond the area of protection. The length of medieval wall at the north end of this range contains the lower part of a fireplace 3.5m wide, suggesting that the ground floor of the east range may have contained the kitchen. The foundations of the north range of the fortified house are considered to survive as buried features beneath a range of later buildings, the latter set slightly further south than their predecessor. A level platform 44m by 38m attached to the south side of the fortified house is interpreted as an outer courtyard. It is defined by the foundations of a stone wall at the north and east sides and by a slight scarp on the south and west. A rectilinear enclosure, slightly hollowed, 20m wide and 70m long extends from the outer courtyard to the south west. The enclosure is defined by stony banks 2m wide standing up to 1m high; a low bank 0.4m high divides the enclosure into two compartments. Immediately east of this enclosure there are the remains of part of a medieval field system visible as broad rig and furrow 5.0m wide and 0.3m high. The remains of part of a dispersed medieval settlement are visible as a line of three discrete groups of earthworks situated to the west of the fortified house. The first and most northerly part of the settlement, which is contained within the second area of protection, lies 150m north west of the fortified house, in the field immediately west of Castle Farm. This part of the settlement is visible as the foundations of a group of rectangular buildings and associated yards and enclosures, standing on average up to 0.5m high. One of the buildings, interpreted as a long house, measures 10m by 6m wide and is divided into two separate rooms; it has a rectangular enclosure immediately to its south. Immediately to the north of the enclosures there is a length of ditch 6m wide and 1m deep flanked by an earthen bank on the west side 1.5m high and up to 5m wide. The ditch and bank terminate in an oval depression containing standing water. This feature is interpreted as a pond with an associated overflow channel. To the east of it there are traces of further scarps and low banks up to 0.4m high which represent further remains of the settlement. The second part of the settlement is situated in the field immediately west of Scargill Farm and is contained within the third area of protection. It is visible as the foundations of a line of rectangular enclosures standing to a maximum height of 0.5m, thought to represent the remains of at least two buildings. A circular feature, 2m in diameter, attached to the south side of the most easterly building is interpreted as an oven. The third, and most southerly, part of the settlement, contained within the fourth area of protection, is situated on a raised plateau immediately north of Scargill Farm. Here, the remains of the settlement are visible as a series of rectangular enclosures defined by low banks and scarps 0.5m high. Part of an associated field system is visible at the monument. An area of broad ridge and furrow cultivation, situated in the field immediately south of the fortified house, contains ridges orientated north to south which are 6m wide and stand 0.3m high. A further part of the field system is visible in the field immediately west of Scargill Farm, south of part of the settlement. Here it is visible as ridge and furrow cultivation orientated north to south and defined by two prominent hollow ways; the ridges are 9m wide and 0.3m high. (Scheduling Report)

Castle gatehouse and flanking fragmentary walls. C15 with alterations. Large blocks of squared sandstone; stone-flagged roofs. Gabled 3-storey gatehouse: partly-blocked depressed-pointed archway with thin voussoirs and pair of C20 doors; chamfered window surround and similar, smaller surround above. External stack rises from first-floor level of right return. Semicircular stair tower wtih chamfered slit openings, set-back top section and monopitch roof, attached to rear of left return. Featureless section of high wall to left. Longer section of wall to right has chamfered, first-floor window surround. Rear of gatehouse similar to front. Interior: ground floor of tower has grooved, slightly-cambered transverse ceiling beam of heavy scantling; chamfered doorway with large alternating jambs leads into stair tower; spiral stone tower stair leads to first- and second- floor chamfered doorways with run-out stops. Further fragments of castle masonry to rear include the left jamb and back wall of a wide, arched fireplace. (Listed Building Report)

Scargill Castle, an ancient peel, of which three storeys of the tower still remain, appears from the foundations to have covered about two acres of ground. The walls are from 4 feet to 6 feet thick, but there is no inscription or armorial bearing to show when, or by whom, the castle was built. About a quarter of a mile S.E. is a small portion of the wall of the Chapel. There is the usual story of a subterranean passage connected with the castle, which, it is said, leads to Egglestone Abbey. (Bulmer)

Gatehouse Comments

The standing remains are a gatehouse to a large complex. This had been failing into disrepair and was on the buildings at risk register. It was purchased in 2001 (as a wedding present) by two archaeologists who have restored the gatehouse. A Time Team evaluation excavation was undertaken in 2008. The standing remains are mainly Tudor. The evaluation possibly identified a medieval tower house and barmkin but limited medieval finds suggested relatively short term high status occupation in the C13 with abandonment and reoccupation and rebuilding in the Tudor period of an unfortified manor house. It sometimes suggested this was the site of 'Scargill' visited by King Edward II in 1323; the itinerary of the king at this time suggest that Scargill was, in fact, John of Gaunts Castle, Haverah Park, near Knaresborough.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* 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 ReferenceNZ053107
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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 54° 17' 15.37" Longitude 0° 23' 22.51"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 54° 17' 15.37" Longitude 0° 23' 22.51"

View full Sized Image
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 54° 17' 15.37" Longitude 0° 23' 22.51"

View full Sized Image

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  • Turner, Maurice, 2004, Yorkshire Castles: Exploring Historic Yorkshire (Otley: Westbury Publishing) p. 245
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles and Tower Houses of Yorkshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 88
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  • Jackson, M.J., 1996, Castles of Durham and Cleveland (Carlisle) p. 52-4
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  • Ryder, P.F., 1982 (paperback edn 1992), The Medieval Buildings of Yorkshire (Ash Grove Book) p. 108-22
  • Pevsner, N., 1966, Buildings of England: Yorkshire: North Riding (London, Penguin) p. 333
  • Page, Wm (ed), 1914, VCH Yorkshire: North Riding Vol. 1 (London) p. 39-40 online transcription
  • Bulmer, 1890, History and Directory of North Yorkshire online copy


  • Stokes, Paul, 2001 Feb 9, 'To Caroline on our wedding day, a lovely medieval ruin' The Daily Telegraph online copy (News report of purchase in 2001)

Primary Sources


  • Hardie-Hammond, Niall, nd, Scargill Castle: Stronghold, Farm, Dowager House, Ruin, Target, Wedding Present and TV Star online copy
  • Wessex Archaeology, 2009, Castle Farm, Scargill, Co Durham Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment of Results online copy
  • Time Team (Mike Aston et al), 2009, Jan 11 (1st broadcast), 'Scargill Castle, The wedding present' Time Team TV Programme (Time Team, a Videotext/Picture House production for Channel 4) view online
  • Creighton, O.H., 1998, Castles and Landscapes: An Archaeological Survey of Yorkshire and the East Midlands (PhD Thesis University of Leicester) p. 538 online copy
  • 1977, Yorkshire Vernacular Buildings Study Group Report No 392