Hamsterley Castles

Has been described as a Rejected Uncertain

There are earthwork remains

NameHamsterley Castles
Alternative NamesThe Castles; Harthope Castle
Historic CountryDurham
Modern AuthorityDurham
1974 AuthorityCounty Durham
Civil ParishSouth Bedburn

The Castle at South Bedburn is the remains of a large stone-built enclosure. It is surrounded by a large dry-stone rubble wall. Although no firm date can be given to the site it seems likely that the structure was built sometime in the 5th to 7th centuries AD by a local king who still wanted Roman-style military forts but lacked the technological skills to construct a true fort. Other possible uses have included that of a Roman (AD43 to 410) camp for workers in lead mines in Weardale. The find of an Iron Age (800BC to AD43) quern stone, in association with the site may also mean that the site has an Iron Age origin. (Keys to the Past)

An enigmatic earthwork with dry stone walls of uncertain date.' The Castles' is a trapezoidal enclosure covering just over an acre with dry stone rubble walls averaging 16 feet thick and originally 11 feet high. There is late ridge and furrow inside the enclosure. Trenching of the site has failed to establish its function. A few Bronze Age flints, including an arrowhead have been found on the site. (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Marked in An Historical Atlas of County Durham as a questionable medieval tower house or small castle with no descriptive text. However the moderately extensive archaeological excavations of the site have never shown any evidence of medieval occupation or reuse, other than ploughing within the enclosure. Can be rejected as a medieval fortification of any sort.

- 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 ReferenceNZ103330
Latitude54.692569732666
Longitude-1.84093999862671
Eastings410350
Northings533070
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All rights reserved

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Books

  • Corfe, Tom (ed), 1992, 'The Visible Middle Ages' in An Historical Atlas of County Durham p. 28-9
  • McCord, Norman, 1971, Durham History from the Air p. 1, 10
  • Mackenzie, E. and Ross, M., 1834, An Historical, Topographical and Descriptive View of the County Palatine of Durham Vol. 2 p. 445 online copy

Journals

  • Fairless, K.J., 1997, ‘The Castles, Hamsterley’ The Bonny Moor Hen: The Journal of The Weardale Field Study Society No. 9 p. 9-17
  • Birley, E., 1955, ''The Castles' Hamsterley' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 111 p. 223
  • Hodgkin, J.E., 1934-6, 'The Castles Camp, Hamsterley, Co. Durham' Transactions of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland Vol. 7 p. 92-8
  • Ball, T., 1923, ‘The Castles Camp, Weardale’ Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne (ser3) Vol. 10 p. 146-8
  • Wooler, E., 1904, ‘‘The Castles’, Hamsterley, County Durham’ Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne (ser3) Vol. 1 p. 64-70

Other

  • Wessex Archaeology, 2008 May, ‘The Castles’, West Shipley Farm, Hamsterley, Co. Durham Archaeological Evaluation and Assessment Results online copy
  • Time Team (Mike Aston et al), 2008 March 16 (1st broadcast), 'Five Thousand Tons of Stone' Time Team TV Programme (Time Team, a Videotext/Picture House production for Channel 4) view online
  • Collins, R., 2002, ‘The Castles, Hamsterley: Survey Project Report, 26-31 May 2002 (Unpublished Report, University of York)