Belford Westhall Tower

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (), and also as a Questionable Pele Tower

There are no visible remains

NameBelford Westhall Tower
Alternative NamesBelford West Hall; Castrum de Belfurth; Castrum de Beleford
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishBelford

Westhall is the site of a tower or 'fortilage'. Remains of a moat can be traced, and the inequalities of the ground mark the foundations of a building. Human bones and a pair of 15th C spurs were found some years ago by workmen enlarging the mill pond, formerly part of the moat (Bateson 1893).

Listed in 1415 (Bates 1891).

No building foundations are now visible. The NE angle and eastern arm of the moat have been obliterated by the modern farm, and the remainder greatly reduced by ploughing, so that virtually only the southern arm and SW angle survive (F1 WDJ 29-NOV-64 ).

There may have been a motte and bailey here in the late 11th century, but the first recorded building was an unfortified manor house which Edward III spent the night in on his return form the Battle of Halidon Hill, 1333. By 1415 the manor house had been replaced by the 'Castrum de Beleford', a strong tower. The moat was dug at this time as part of the building's defence (Dodds 1999). (PastScape)

In the survey of 1415, there is named a 'Castrum de Belfurth' belonging to 'Dom de Dacre' (Lord Darce), but probably used by Thomas Lylburn, which by 1509 was recommended for a garrison by 40 horsemen. Remains of a moat can be traced although it has been partly built upon and plough damaged. Human bones and a C15 spur were found when enlarging the mill pond, formerly part of the moat, in C19. The 1715 survey records it a "formerly possessed by ye Armorers, now to Sr Robert Shafto."

See Belford Westhall Motte for discussion as the possible earlier castle.

Gatehouse Comments

Earthworks survive, C19 castellated farm sometimes said to be on site of a C11 Motte and Bailey. Although the presence of the later tower suggests this may have been a high status location the very nearby presence of a strong natural position and already existing Prehistoric camp at Chapel Crag, which has a Norman chapel on it, would suggest this may not be the sole or earliest manorial centre. What reason would there be to build a motte here when there is a more dramatic, better defended but still easily accessible site is so close by? If there was a C11 or C12 castle at Belford the remains of the the Chapel of St Mary at NU10463449 suggest where it was located. The other aspect to this question is a consideration of the reasons for building a manor house on the level lands. The spring line runs about the 75m contour above the Tower but below the Chapel Crag camps so water supply may be one issue. Closeness to the fields and ease of access to the village and parish church may be other considerations.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNU102339
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Calculate Print


  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 62-3
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 23
  • Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 327
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 55, 57
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 61
  • Sanders, I.J., 1960, English Baronies. A study of their origin and descent 1086-1327 p. 100-1
  • Bateson, Edward (ed), 1893, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 1 p. 363-4 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 15, 23 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)
  • Tomlinson, W.W. 1888, Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 444-5
  • Hodgson, J., 1820, A History of Northumberland Part 3 Vol. 1 (Newcastle-upon-Tyne; John Hodgson) p. 27


  • Bond, C.J. (ed.), 1979, Moated Site Research Group Vol. 6 p. 49
  • 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. 5 abridged transcription
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 15, 23 online copy

Primary Sources


  • Northumberland County Council, 2009, 'Belford' Northumberland Extensive Urban Survey doi:10.5284/1000177 [download copy >]