Weardale House Mound, St John's Chapel

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameWeardale House Mound, St John's Chapel
Alternative NamesSnap; Ireshopeburn
Historic CountryDurham
Modern AuthorityDurham
1974 AuthorityCounty Durham
Civil ParishStanhope

(NY 87123849) "Large mound, possible a barrow. Local tradition that 'a King was buried there'." (Annotated Record Map EJW Hildyard April 1955).

A grass and tree covered mound measuring 62 by 40m. overall and with a maximum height of 4m, the near flat top measuring 24 by 14m. A stoney construction is visible in the sides. The dimensions and situation of the mound suggest that it is unlikely to be a tumulus, but more probably a motte. There are no traces of a ditch or bailey (F1 DS 24-JUN-57).

This mound, which is oval in shape and situated at the foot of sloping ground, is not a barrow nor does it resemble a motte. It has the appearance of a natural feature and is not all that different to other slightly smaller elongated undulations to the south east. The stone construction referred to by F1 is modern (F2 BHP 02-OCT-74)

On the basis of the mound's orientation and dimensions Young suggests it may be a long barrow. He further states it is not a spoil heap or a glacial feature (Young). A natural feature with nothing to suggest that it has ever been utilised as a barrow or a motte (F3 ISS 9-OCT-79). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

There is no sign of a ditch. Snap Castle is the name of a nearby cottage. The site overlooks a crossing of River Wear. King put this in his possible list (meaning doubtful) but wrote "Probably motte."

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY871384
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  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles and Tower Houses of County Durham (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 63 (slight)
  • Jackson, M.J., 1996, Castles of Durham and Cleveland (Carlisle) p. 67
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 139 (possible)


  • 1980, Transactions of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland Vol. 5 p. 11


  • 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
  • Young, R., 1975, Inventory of Barrows in Co Durham (Typescript)