Tower Tye

Has been described as a Possible Timber Castle (Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameTower Tye
Alternative NamesTortie
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishBrampton

Earthwork remains of a C14 Medieval ringwork; a circular earthwork having well defined defences which consist of an inner bank, a ditch, and an outer bank. The inner bank running around the edge of the interior measures approximately 6m wide by 1m high. It is flanked by a ditch c 2.5m by 0.5m deep which in turn is flanked by an outer bank measuring up to 5m wide by 0.5m high. (PastScape)

There is on the summit of a hill within the park (Naworth), a 14thc circular ring fort with double ramparts, c 40 yards diameter, known as Tower Tye or Tortie (Curwin; Collingwood). An earthwork occupying a very commanding position but of rather weak proportions. It is circular and comprises rampart, ditch and counterscarp bank, the latter eroded away in places. Within the rampart is a slight inner, perhaps quarry ditch. There is no evidence of an entrance. Nowhere does the rampart exceed 1.2m above the ditch bottom, or 0.5m above the interior; the ditch itself is 0.5m deep. The interior is bracken covered and so far as on can judge, featureless. Curwens assessment of the work as medieval is unlikely although the lack of specific dateable characteristics makes a firm alternative impossible (Field Investigators Comments–F1 CFW 09-FEB-72). NY 56506206 Tower Tye ringwork. This monument includes a circular earthwork having well defined defences which consist of an inner bank, a ditch, and an outer bank. The ringwork's flat interior measures approximately 40m in diameter and would originally have contained buildings. The inner bank running around the edge of the interior measures approximately 6m wide by 1m high. It is flanked by a ditch c2.5m wide by 0.5m deep which in turn is flanked by an outer bank measuring up to 5m wide by 0.5m high; scheduled (English Heritage SAM Amendment 12.10.95). (PastScape)

Despite some disturbance by tree root activity, Tower Tye ringwork survives reasonably well and remains unencumbered by modern development

Its earthworks in particular remain well preserved and the monument will retain significant archaeological evidence associated with the occupation of its interior and the construction of its defences.

The monument includes the medieval Tower Tye ringwork, also known as Tortie. It is located on a local high point, a short distance north of the main A69 Carlisle - Newcastle road, from where there are extensive views in all directions. The ringwork includes a circular earthwork having well defined defences which consist of an inner bank, a ditch and an outer bank. The ringwork's flat interior measures approximately 40m in diameter and would originally have contained buildings. The inner bank running around the edge of the interior measures approximately 6m wide by 1m high. It is flanked by a ditch measuring c.2.5m wide by 0.5m deep which in turn is flanked by an outer bank measuring up to 5m wide by 0.5m high. (Scheduling Report)

Possible medieval ringwork.

Curwen says 'There is on the summit of a hill within the park a circular ring fort, with double ramparts of exaggerated proportions, known as Tower Tye'.

No traces of buildings. Contrast between between Curwen and OS descriptions. OS finds it less 'exaggerated' in scale. 'Tortie' appears in several places in this area, e.g. near Howgill in Farlam, in Askerton, and in Northumberland along the Roman Wall. Curwen gives the derivation as Welsh 'Twr Ty' = Tower house. However, the name appears as 'Tortoise' on the 1829 map and may refer to the shape of the hill. (Perriam and Robinson 1998)

Gatehouse Comments

This site is in a natural defensive position, by a crossroads and close to river crossing at Lanercost. The C14 date in PastScape is odd and Gatehouse is quite at a loss as to why what would be a fairly major earthwork castle has been completely missed by King or Jackson. May be precursor to Naworth Castle. However an outer bank is not a feature of ringwork castles and this is dubious as a medieval castle ringwork despite the scheduling record. Is this a well preserved Iron Age small hill fort or large defended farmstead, possible with some later medieval reuse as a dwelling of low status? Have the usually, post Curwin (who was no earthworks expert), authorities ever considered this as anything other than Iron Age?

- 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 ReferenceNY565620
Latitude54.9513702392578
Longitude-2.68073010444641
Eastings356500
Northings562060
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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Books

  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 165
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 213
  • Collingwood, W.G., 1901, 'Remains of the pre-Norman Period' in H.Arthur Doubleday (ed), VCH Cumberland Vol. 1 p. 292 online copy

Journals

  • Collingwood, W.G., 1923, 'An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Cumberland' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 23 p. 247-8 online copy

Other

  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk North West Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 18 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 18 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 18 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 33 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 31 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 29 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 North West (London: English Heritage) p. 37 online copy