Branxton Tower

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are no visible remains

NameBranxton Tower
Alternative NamesBrankstone
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishBranxton

Although there are now no traces of a tower at Branxton, it is mentioned in 16th century documents. The tower seems to have been damaged by the Scots in 1496 and lain unrepaired until 1541. (Keys to the Past)

There is documentary evidence for a small pele tower in 1496 that was situated within the shrunken medieval village of Branxton. The tower is said to have been damaged by the Scots in 1496 and repaired by 1541. It was razed before 1596. However, no evidence remains, either on or below the ground, for this building. (PastScape)

A tower was built in the 1450s but it was laid low by King James IV in 1496. In or about 1520 John Selby of Grindonrigg, a gentleman porter of Berwick, brought the part of Branxton not owned by the monastry. Lord Dacre, warden of the marches ordered him to rebuild the tower as he wished to station ten men in it. This was done before 1541. It was razed well before 1596, when a gang of Scotsmen, returning home after a frustrated attack on Downham, drove off 16 head of cattle and 80 sheep without appreciable hindrance. (Dodds)

A pele tower at Branxton, Northumberland then in the county of Islandshire, owned by William Selby was destroyed by the Scots in 1496 and was rebuilt by his son John (d 1565). It did not remain the main family home as William had purchased Twizell Castle from Heron in 1520 and that estate was developed in preference to Branxton. (Wikipedia uncited)

Gatehouse Comments

Bates assumed the tower was destroyed in 1496. Dodds evidence for the tower being built in the 1450s is unclear. The Selby's were the largest landowners in the parish in the C15 and could have had a house with a small solar tower. The assumption the tower was razed by 1596 may be true but the presence of a small tower per se need not have impeded a raid. However the tower must have been lost fairly early because of the lack of remains and knowledge of its location. The location of this small tower is lost but must have been near to the church at given map reference.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNT892374
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Calculate Print


  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 89
  • Graham, Frank, 1993, Northumberian Castles Aln, Tweed and Till (Butler Publishing) p. 5
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 346
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 83
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 74-5
  • Vickers, Kenneth H. (ed), 1922, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 11 p. 105-6 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 22, 34 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)


  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 22, 34 online copy

Primary Sources

  • 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
  • 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