Ponteland Castle

Has been described as a Certain Pele Tower

There are uncertain remains

NamePonteland Castle
Alternative NamesErringtons Tower; Blackbird Inn; Castle of Aymer de Athol
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishPonteland

Formerly a manor house, now an inn. Medieval tower, altered and house added mid C17 for Mark Errington. Restored early C20. Tower large random rubble with stone slate roof. Attached house roughly-dressed stone and Welsh slate roof. Old brick chimneys.

Tower, on left, has large projecting chimney to left with stone base rising to 2 tall brick shafts. To right a projecting 3-storey gabled frontispiece, blank on ground floor and oversailing above on 2 large rounded corbels. Two 2-light double-chamfered mullioned windows above, with strings rising to form hoodmoulds. Gabled roof with kneelers

Between these projections a C20 door and, on 1st floor a 2-light window with hoodmould and panel above inscribed M:E: for Mark Errington.

3-bay attached house to right has central gabled porch with round-headed door in architrave. Stone slate roof. M.E. inscribed on lintel of original Tudor- arched doorway within. Flanking canted bay windows and 2-light windows above have double-chamfered surrounds. This detail is now all C19.

On left return 4-light mullioned windows with hoodmoulds on ground and first floors. 2-light window above.

Interior of tower has tunnel-vaulted ground floor and a large C17 fireplace; the lintel carved with crenellations. (Listed Building Report)

The ruins of a tower stand as part of the Blackbird Inn at Ponteland. The earls of Athol lived in the tower in C14. The Scots raided it in 1388, and was rebuilt in C17. It fell into ruins and was roofless until 1935 when it was restored and built into the inn. On the east side of the basement is an impressive fireplace of about 1600. (Keys to the Past)

Ponteland's tower was occupied in 1325, and burnt in 1388. It was bought and restored in 1580. A Jacobean manor house was built, incorporating the tower, about a century later, and lived in until 1788

It is not known when it became a public house, nor why it is called the Blackbird (Dodds 1999).

Also known as Errington Pele (King 1983).

The ruins of a Pele Tower stand in the garden of the Blackbird Inn at Ponteland. The earls of Athol lived in the tower in the 14th c.

The Scots successfully raided it is 1388. It was rebuilt by Mark Erington at beginning of 17th c. (Hadcock 1939; Dodds 1926).

The renovated remains of the tower are now incorporated in the public house situated at its southern extremity. It consists of a rectangualr building of two storeys 11.4m N-S and 6.6m E-W, with typical 17th c features. See photograph. No evidence that this was ever called "Ponteland Castle" (except on O.S. maps) can be found (16-Mar-1954). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

This was a fairly small chamber block tower, probably attached to other buildings. Although this was a baronial status building the earls of Athol's power base was in Perthshire and this must have been a peripheral house of their holdings usually inhabited by a steward. In its later history it was certainly a gentry status building.

- 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 ReferenceNZ165729
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved

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.

Calculate Print


  • Geldard, Ed, 2009, Northumberland Strongholds (London: Frances Lincoln) p. 37
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 275
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 91
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 200 (slight)
  • Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle) p. 102
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 75
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 340
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 294-5
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles in Northumberland (Newcastle) p. 146
  • Pevsner, N., 1957, Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 277
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles (1970 Reprint by Frank Graham) p. 181-3
  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1926, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 12 p. 446-9, 451, 454-5
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Tomlinson, W.W., 1897, Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 77
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 12 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)


  • King, Andy, 2007, 'Fortress and fashion statements: gentry castles in fourteenth-century Northumberland' Journal of Medieval History Vol. 33 p. 377-8
  • 1994-95, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 5 p. 37
  • Hadcock, R.N., 1939, 'A map of mediaeval Northumberland and Durham' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 16 p. 148-218
  • 1911, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser3) Vol. 5 p. 70-7 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 12 online copy
  • 1890, The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend p. 505-6 online copy
  • 1889, The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend p. 367 online copy