Barmoor Castle

Has been described as a Possible Tower House, and also as a Possible Pele Tower

There are masonry footings remains

NameBarmoor Castle
Alternative NamesBarnmoor; Bairmoor; Byermore; Barmor; Barmer
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishLowick

Barmoor Castle was the medieval home of the Muschampe family. It was first recorded in 1341, but by 1541 it was in ruins. It was rebuilt as a country house in 1801. It was added to and altered during the 19th century and was not finally completed until 1892. (Keys to the Past)

The house was begun in 1801, but it is said that old walls of a tower-house were made use of and a Jacobean porch was re-used (Pevsner).

Barmoor Castle shows no external traces of antiquity, although the porch on the east side is built of re-used masonry as described above. Mr. Sitwell, the owner, thinks that the tower-walls are incorporated internally (F1 DK 02-FEB-67)

Barmoor Castle, building of classical character in castellated Tudor dress, built mainly in 1801 to the designs of Patterson of Edinburgh but incorporating Medieval, 16th and 17th century masonry (Listed Building Report).

In 1341, Thomas Muschamp obtained a licence to build a crenelated tower, but it faied to keep out raiders in 1367. In 1514, it was serviceable and capable of lodging 30 horsemen, but by 1541 was ruinous. In 1801 a mansion grew around the tower, but by the 1980s this was ruinous. Now being renovated with the intention of turning it into holiday flats (Dodds). (PastScape)

Formerly a seat of the Muschampe family, licence to crenellate was granted in 1341 and the building was described in 1415 as a fortalice. By 1541 it was 'on extreme decaye and almoste ruynous for lack of reparacions'. In its present form the building is a country house in a castellated Gothick style, designed in 1801 for Francis Sitwell by John Paterson. Building, in several campaigns, spanned most of the 19th century and it was not completed until 1892. At the time of writing it is standing derelict and empty, with the north wing a roofless ruin. Restoration is apparently planned. It is not clear how much earlier fabric is incorporated in the present largely 19th century building

Externally, the south end of the house (towards the service court) shows two sections of a chamfered plinth of possible medieval date. The return at the east end of the plinth shows that the present east front of the house stands about 0.6m outside the line of that of the earlier building. There are also remains of a plinth at the south end of the west wall of the main three storey block. The main block has some very thick (up to 1.5m) walls, but the only one with features of any age is the north wall of the block (now within the lower north wing) which has a large fireplace at ground floor level. This has a chamfered segmental arch 2.24m wide, with an old bread oven in its west jamb. The remainder of the building has not been examined in detail, many of the walls are hidden by plaster. It is quite likely that further pre 19th century fabric survives, although its extent is difficult to determine (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

Gatehouse Comments

C19 castellated mansion, incorporating some wall 1.2m-1.4m thick, of what was probably a C14 towerhouse, licence to crenellate granted to Thomas de Muschamp in 1341. In 1514 was capable of holding thirty horsemen. By 1550 reportedly had been 'cast down by the Scots and not repaired' Recorded as a tower (Turris) in the 1415 list. In the 1509 list recorded as fit for a garrison of 30 men, this may have more to do with the local available manpower than the physical size of the building but most local pele towers were suggested as fit for a garrison of 20 whereas the larger tower houses had 40 and the castles 80-100. In the 1541 list, where it is described as in 'extreme decay and almost ruinous' it is called a tower but in this list pele towers usually get a suffix of 'lytle'. This branch of the Muschamp family were arguable top end gentry rather than baronial. The form of the C14 tower is not known but either a large solar tower attached to a hall (a pele tower) or a small tower house.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNT997398
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Geldard, Ed, 2009, Northumberland Strongholds (London: Frances Lincoln) p. 56
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 48-9
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 22
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 159
  • Graham, Frank, 1993, Northumberian Castles Aln, Tweed and Till (Butler Publishing) p. 5
  • Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle)
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 11, 32
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 326
  • Graham, F., 1977, Old Halls, Houses and Inns of Northumberland (Newcastle; Frank Graham) p. 22
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 52-3
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 58
  • Pevsner, N., 1957, Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 81
  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1935, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 14 p. 107-16
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Welford, R. (ed), 1905, Records of the Committees for Compounding, etc., with delinquent royalists in Durham and Northumberland, 1643-60 (Surtees Society 111) p. 297-9 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 9, 17, 23, 37 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 413 online copy


  • Dower, Robin, 2011, 'Barmoor Castle Conservation Plan Conservation Repair and Reuse' Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 20 p. 18-19 online copy
  • 1904, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser3) Vol. 1 p. 189 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 9, 17, 23, 37 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Sir Robert Bowes, 1550, A Book of the State of the Frontiers and Marches betwixt England and Scotland taken from Brit. Mus. Cotton. MS. Titus, F.13, a copy of the original (see Bates, 51, n185). Printed in Hodgson, [pt.3, ii, 187, 204 >]
  • 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
  • 1509, Holdis and Towneshyppes too lay in Garnysons of horsmen Survey of Tevedale
  • 1415, Nomina Castrorum et Fortaliciorum infra Comitatum Northumbrie online transcription
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1900, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1340-43) Vol. 5 p. 221 online copy


  • Kent, C.L., 2016, Beyond the defensible threshold: the house-building culture of Berwick-upon-Tweed and the East March, 1550-1603 (PhD Thesis, Durham University) online copy
  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk North East Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 14 online copy
  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk North East Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 16 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 16 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 17 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 31 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 31 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 29 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 North East (London: English Heritage) p. 38 online copy
  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 2 Berwick District p. 23