Shilburnhaugh pele, Kielder Water

Has been described as a Possible Pele Tower

There are no visible remains

NameShilburnhaugh pele, Kielder Water
Alternative NamesShilburn Haugh
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishFalstone

Old building is mentioned in a survey made in about 1715. It was thought that this might have been a pele tower but no old remains have been found at the present farmhouse or its surroundings. A nearby hill is called Tower Knowe but no trace of a tower was seen here either. (Keys to the Past)

Pele at Shilburnhaugh (Hadcock 1939).

A survey of c1715 refers to "an old pile" at Shilburnhaugh (Hodgson 1916).

Situated in a narrow valley Shilburnhaugh is overlooked by higher ground from all directions and would have been a very poor defensive site. No evidence of antiquity is present in the farmhouse, its outbuildings or surrounding walls, and Mr Davidson the tenant farmer has no knowledge of a Pele at the place (F1 DAD 03-AUG-56).

The adjacent hill Tower Knowe was perambulated, but nothing to indicate the site of a Pele was seen (F1 FDC 21-AUG-56).

John Warburton noted an old pile at Shilburnhaugh belonging to one Robson. The site is now under Kielder Water (Dodds 1999). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Warburton's list was not one exclusively of defensive structures and his terminology in the list is not consistent. He uses 'pile' and 'tower' seemingly interchangeably and 'pile' can seem to refer to buildings of varying size. However he is generally unconcerned with pele-house bastles so this 'pile' probably was a pele tower (a small chamber or solar block attached to an unfortified hall). The valley of the Whickhope Burn was fairly narrow but Shilburnhaugh was at the mouth of this Burn as it joined the River North Tyne where a relatively wide flood plain must have provided a fairly good meadow making this spot rich enough for a small gentry house. With regard to 'defensive' quality the probably location would dominate a ford of the River North Tyne and is, therefore, arguably of strategic value.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY693871
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 310
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 353
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 316
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 156-7


  • Hadcock, R.N., 1939, 'A map of mediaeval Northumberland and Durham' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 16 p. 148-218 esp 184
  • 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. 14 abridged transcription