Scrainwood Tower

Has been described as a Possible Pele Tower

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameScrainwood Tower
Alternative NamesScrenwood; Scenwood; Screenwood; Skrynwood; Scranwood; Screynwood; Scrynwood; Skranwood
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishAlnham

A tower and barmkin at Scrainwood are first mentioned in the beginning of the reign of Henry VIII (1509). They are described in the Survey of 1541, as being of the inheritance of John Horseley and kept in very good repair (Bates 1891).

Some years ago, the ruins of a large house with walls of great thickness, having pointed doorways and mullioned windows, besides other old foundations, were standing in the fields east of the present Screnwood House. It is very probable that these were the remains of the border tower and barmkin of the Horseleys (Dixon 1895).

NT 99180944 No traces of antiquity are visible in the present buildings at Scrainwood and Mr Snaithe the present occupier was unaware of the former existence of a tower there. The surface area of the south west portion of the field east of the house (referred to by Dixon), however is very disturbed and contains banks of earth and stones - generally of indeterminate shape. At NT 99150945 is the only feature recognisable as a building foundation. It consists of an enclosure 6m square formed by banks 1.8m wide and of 0.3m maximum height. Whether this was the tower is doubtful, but it appears likely that the tower did stand somewhere within the disturbed area - as suggested. The site is overlooked by higher ground from all directions except the south, but nowhere in the vicinity of Scrainwood is there an ideal defensive site for a tower (F1 DAD 01-MAY-1957)

It is possible to discern about three probable house platforms as stated in report of 30/5/57 but they are too amorphous to warrant survey. There is no trace of a tower or barmkin. Otherwise as described (F4 ISS 01-FEB-1977)

Scrainwood was a member of the barony of Alnwick. 1296: 12 taxpayers. But in 1377 the Poll Tax return recorded 33 adults. Armstrong's map of 1769 shows a farm and Mackenzie described it as a farmhold

D D Dixon records a tradition that there was 'a large house with walls of great thickness, having pointed doorways and mullioned windows, besides other old foundations, were standing in the green field east of the present Screnwood House'. Earthworks were recognised in the field to the east of the present farm at the above grid reference. Site of former tower was not ascertained (Dixon 1984). (Northumberland HER)

Gatehouse Comments

The exact site of this tower is lost but further investigation (geophysics and/or lidar) may well produce evidence for location and even size of the tower. The tower was suggested as able to hold a garrison of 20 men in 1509 which was the minimum size of the garrisons in that listing. This suggests a pele tower with attached unfortified hall.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNT991094
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 173
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 115 (slight)
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 34
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 352
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 312
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 153
  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1935, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 14 p. 579-80
  • Dixon, D.D., 1895, Whittingham Vale (R. Redpath) p. 56
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 22, 24, 43 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)


  • 1963, Medieval Village Research Group annual report App C No 122
  • Hodgson, J.C., 1916, 'List of Ruined Towers, Chapels, etc., in Northumberland; compiled about 1715 by John Warburton, Somerset Herald, aided by John Horsley' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser3) Vol. 13 p. 3 abridged transcription
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 22, 24, 43 online copy

Primary Sources

  • 1541, View of the Castles, Towers, Barmekyns and Fortresses of the Frontier of the East and Middle Marches Survey of the East and Middle Marches
  • Brewer, J.S. (ed), 1867, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII Vol. 3 p. 852 No. 1986 online copy
  • 1509, Holdis and Towneshyppes too lay in Garnysons of horsmen Survey of Tevedale


  • Dixon, P.J., 1984, The Deserted Medieval Villages of North Northumberland Vol. 2 (PhD Thesis: University of Wales) p. 519-20