Kershope Castle

Has been described as a Questionable Timber Castle (Other/Unknown), and also as a Questionable Tower House

There are masonry footings remains

NameKershope Castle
Alternative NamesKirshope; Gresshope; Gresshoppa; Carrshope
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishKielder

Kershope Castle survives well and retains significant archaeological deposits. As an example of a solitary tower house which retains its earthwork defences, it is unusual and will add to our knowledge of the diversity of medieval settlement in the Border area of England. The fact that it is mentioned in medieval documents enhances the importance of the monument.

The monument includes the remains of a tower of medieval date, situated on a steep south west facing slope overlooking the valley of the North Tyne. The monument is visible as a rectangular mound measuring 7m north west to south east by 5m north east to south west, truncated on the north eastern side by a forestry track. The mound supports the remains of a stone tower which is visible as a section of stone walling at the north western side. The mound is surrounded on three sides by a ditch 1.3m deep and on average 6.5m wide. Outside the ditch there are the remains of a slight outer bank which, where it is best preserved on the south eastern side, is 1.5m wide. The north eastern side of the tower and its supporting mound are buried beneath debris resulting from the construction of a forestry track. The surrounding ditch on this side, which survives below ground level as a buried feature, has been infilled and overlain by the track. Kershope Castle is thought to have been the tower referred to in a document of 1249 when it was associated with one Robert of 'Gresshope'. It is thought that the castle was in existence by the mid-12th century, as a document of 1304 confirms a grant of land in 'Gresshoppa' which was originally made by Malcolm, King of Scotland, who died in 1165. It is possible that the tower was a later addition to an earlier earthwork site. (Scheduling Report)

A few indefinite mounds on the southern slope of Deadwater Moor are all that remains of Kershope Castle

In 1249 a Robert of "Gresshope", which may be Kershope is mentioned, and in 1304 a grant of land was made in "Creshope". In the same year there was a confirmation of a grant of land in "Gresshoppa", originally made by Malcolm, King of Scotland (died 1165) (Dodds 1940).

The ruined foundations of Kershope or Carshope Castle, are situated 600 yards above the stream. They measure about 40 feet by 35 feet and are surrounded by a ditch.

About 250 yards east of the castle and close to a rocky precipice are the foundations of dwellings probably connected with the castle. One of these is about 75 feet long by 20 feet wide (MacLauchan 1867).

Situated at NY 6144 9595 on steep SW facing slopes within Kielder Forest, overlooking the River North Tyne Valley, the remains consist of a mound approximately 7.0m by 5.0m surrounded on three sides by a ditch (now mainly infilled) and part of an outer bank. On the central mound is a small section of stonework in the NW which may possibly be the inner face of a wall of the original tower.

Although only the SW half of the earthworks survive, the remainder having been destroyed by a forestry road and deep ploughing, it seems probable that the original form was a central mound supporting a tower and enclosed by a ditch and outer bank. Although large areas of trees to the E, and NE have now been cleared no traces of the additional buildings referred to by MacLauchan could be located (F1 SA 13-APR-77). (PastScape)

No history as a tower; may even be of Scottish construction. (King 1983)

Kershope, or Carrshope Castle, of which scarcely any remains are now visible except the foundations on which it stood.

The ruins are situated on the left of the river, about three quarters of a mile from Deadwater, and 600 yards above the stream, below a rocky precipice, among the fallen masses of which it is probable that dwellings connected with the castle originally stood. The foundation of one, indeed, is still to be seen about 250 yards east from the castle, close under the rock, where excellent water and shelter might be found. These ruins are about 75 feet long and 20 feet wide. The ground about it offers ready means of defence. The castle itself is only 40 feet in diameter by 35, surrounded by a ditch of about 9 feet. Water to supply the ditch has been taken to it through a channel out from the stream a short distance above. A quadrangular outwork of about 120 feet by 35 is faintly discernible on the north-west.

From the ditch of the castle two ditches are still visible running from it in opposite directions, and terminating in the river below, the banks of which bear the appearance of having at a period not very distant been overflowed with water; and this conjecture is confirmed by traditionary accounts. The ditches, with banks towards the river, are about 1100 yards apart where they join the riverside, and therefore inclose a considerable space of ground. The area inclosed shows evident marks of the plough.

The ancient way called the Drove Road passed through the ground below the castle, near to where the present road runs. From the

names of places along this Drove Road it seems that an ancient British Way passed originally through the Keilder river, about 350 yards above the castle, and ascended the hill known as the Coal Road, on to the Watch Pike. (MacLauchan 1867)

Gatehouse Comments

A site now lost within a vast conifer plantation with its medieval landscape mainly obscured but was sited to see and be seen from the Drove Road and was a centre for a lost settlement with a considerable arable aspect. However this high up that must always have been a marginal agricultural community. The tower itself does not seem to have been large or particular high status but does seem to be something a bit more than gentry status solar or chamber towers of the lower lands of Northumberland.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY614959
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 291-2
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 115 (slight)
  • Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 350
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 219
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 127-8
  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1940, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 15 p. 265
  • MacLauchlan, H., 1867, Notes not included in the memoirs already published on Roman roads (Alnwick) p. 59 online copy


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