North Sunderland Tower

Has been described as a Questionable Pele Tower, and also as a Questionable Bastle

There are no visible remains

NameNorth Sunderland Tower
Alternative NamesShoreston
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishNorth Sunderland

Tower in North Sunderland demolished in 1790, when the present church and vicarage were built. When it was demolished several C16 & C17 coins were found. There are no visible remains to be seen here now. (Keys to the Past)

An ancient tower which once existed at North Sunderland, was demolished about the year 1790, when the present church and vicarage were built. It was square, and of solid masonry; the walls being about five feet in thickness. It consisted of two storeys, the lower of which was perfect, having an arched roof of stone, with a large doorway to the north, and communicating with the upper storey by a hanging stair in the south-west angle of the building. Of this upper storey portions of the walls were standing, but it was roofless, with an accumulation of debris on the floor which was over-grown with grass and weeds. The tower appears to have been about 24 feet square. A hammered cannon ball was found by the sexton when digging a grave within twenty yards of the site of the tower. Whilst the tower was in course of demolition several score of coins from the reign of Elizabeth to that of Anne were discovered. No trace of this ancient building now remains, and the recollection of its existence is fast passing away. (Bateson 1893)

The site of the Pele tower, however, we were fortunate enough to to have pointed out to us, on good authority. It stood 20 yards north-west of the north west angle of the church, and was about 35 feet square. It was destroyed in 1831, when the church and parsonage was built. (MacLauchlan 1867)

Gatehouse Comments

It should be noted this was a two storey building, although it is called a tower in the reports. The finds found in association with the building seem to suggest a C16 date. The description given is that to be of a vaulted pele-house bastle rather than a pele tower. The demolition date appears to be 1831-2 not 1790. The church was a new foundation of 1833 so this was not a earlier rectory and it was not a 'vicar's pele' nor is there any real suggestion of a gentry status inhabitant of North Sunderland in the middle ages.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNU211314
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 134-5
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 115 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 354
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 289
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 143
  • Bateson, Edward (ed), 1893, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 1 p. 318-19 online copy
  • MacLauchlan, H. 1867, Notes not included in the memoirs already published on Roman roads in Northumberland (London) p. 10 online copy


  • 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. 4 abridged transcription
  • Simpson, F.R., 1869-72, 'On the Pele Tower at North Sunderland, and some Coins found in its Vicinity in 1832-3' History of the Berwickshire Naturalist Club Vol. 6 p. 345-6 online copy