Birdoswald Tower

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are masonry footings remains

NameBirdoswald Tower
Alternative Namescampis Borddoswald; Burdeswald
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishWaterhead

Birdoswald first appears in the written record in 1211 when a certain Walter de Beivin was farming the property, then part of the Barony of Gilsland. He gave land in the area to Lanercost Priory and his nephew was known as Ralph de Birdoswald indicating he had a house there. It was a convenient location, for the thick stone walls of the old Roman fort subsequently provided protection for generations of farmers in a Scottish border area that remained marginal and dangerous territory. By 1425, the farm was in the hands of the Vaux family who were probably the builders of a large pele tower found during excavation. The old Roman west gate was also still in use at this time, but it had collapsed by the end of the century. (Wikipedia ref. Wilmott 1995)

Gatehouse Comments

C13 tower built by gatehouse of Roman fort, later replaced by two bastles close by. The C19 farm within the fort has a 'tower', this is modern and should not be confused with the medieval tower.

- 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 ReferenceNY614662
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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  • The bibliography for this site is large and extensive but mostly, usually exclusively, deals with the Roman fort and occupation and is beyond the scope of this record.
  • Wilmott, T., 1999, Birdoswald: Excavations of a Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall and its successor settlements, 1987-1992 (London: English Heritage) p. 387-91, 394-99 Download via ADS
  • Salter, Mike, 1998, The Castles and Tower Houses of Cumbria (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 20
  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 134-5
  • Wilmott, Tony, 1997, Birdoswald: excavations of a Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall and its successor settlements, 1987-92 (London: English Heritage Archaeological reports (new ser) Vol. 14)

Guide Books

  • Wilmott, Tony, 2005, Birdoswald Roman Fort (London: English Heritage)
  • Wilmott, Tony, 1995, Birdoswald - A History and Souvenir Guide (Cumbria County Council) p. 49-53

Primary Sources

  • Prescott, J.E. (ed), 1897, The Register of the Priory of Wetheral (Kendal: CWAAS Record Series 1) p. 233-5 no. 127 (grant of land in Campis de Borddoswald to Wetheral Priory c. 1200) online copy
  • Feodar of Gillesland and Feodar of Thomas Lord Dacre of Gillesland, Cumbria Archive Service.


  • Barker, Louise and Rushworth, Alan (compilers), 1998, Hadrian's Wall at Birdoswald: a survey of the extent and state of preservation of Archaeological remains in the guardianship of English Heritage