Warden Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte Ringwork)

There are earthwork remains

NameWarden Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishWarden

The motte castle at Warden is a well preserved example of a monument type which is rare in Northumberland. Evidence relating to the nature and duration of its use will be preserved and hence the site will contribute to the study of the Norman Conquest of northern Britain.

The monument includes a Norman motte situated on the top of a natural hill commanding a prominent position above the confluence of the rivers North and South Tyne. The conical motte, which stands at a height of at least 3m, has been constructed upon a high promontory in order to utilize the steep natural defence on the north, east and south sides and it is only on the west side that artificial defences have been dug. These consist of a ditch, which isolates the motte from the rest of the promontory, varying in width from 2.5m to a maximum of 5m. The motte is flat-topped and oval in plan measuring 35m by 19m. A bank has been constructed along its western edge which now stands at a height of 0.5m. There is a causeway across the ditch in the south-western corner of the monument, the presumed site of an original entrance. The motte was constructed in this strategic position in order to dominate the passage of traffic across the rivers. (Scheduling Report)

"Measures 35 paces x 25 paces, cut off by a ditch from a sort of promontory, by the side of a deep fissure in the declivity." An oval Camp, immediately north of the Vicarage, at outpost from Warden Hill (NY 96 NW 17) to watch the fords of the river (MacLauchlan 1858).

"A track comes up from the road and passes the Camp as a hollow-way on the south, and there is also an entrance with a ramp up to it on the north side, but whether this last is modern or original cannot be said

On the west there is a ditch; on the east there is a very steep slope down to the level of the road." (Hedley 1923-4).

An earthwork situated in an excellent commanding position on a promontory, overlooking the confluence of two major rivers (North Tyne & South Tyne). The promontory has been isolated by the construction of a strong ditch across the neck, and heightened so that the level top now stands 2.0 m., above the level of the ground to the NW. A defensive bank has been erected south-east of the ditch, elsewhere defences are natural and precipitous. A probable original entrance is visible in the west face of the work, a causewayed entrance to the north is sharply cut and possibly later, there are no signs of internal occupation, the present nearest water supply is a well 70.0 m. to the NE., perambulation revealed no traces of out-works. The hollow-way, refd. to by Hedley, is a natural steep sided ravine.

From the construction and topographical situation the earthwork is adjudged to be a Motte.

Warden Church (150.0 m. to the S.E.) is indicative of Saxon & Norman occupation in this area. (See NY 96 NW 13 & 40) Similar earthworks of this nature have been encountered in this county at Wooler (NT 92 NE 59) and Lowick Low Stead (NU 03 NW 4) (F1 FDC 3.5.56). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Sometimes described as partial ringwork. The strategic position, overlooking fords should be noted but it dhould also be noted the parish church is of Saxon origin and, therefore, it is likely the Norman castle is sited on the site of a Saxon manorial site.

- 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 ReferenceNY911665
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 366
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 115 (slight)
  • Jackson, M.J., 1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle) p. 120
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 342-3
  • MacLauchlan, H., 1858, Memoir written during a Survey of the Roman Wall (London) p. 29-30 online copy


  • King, D.J.C. and Alcock, L., 1969, 'Ringworks in England and Wales' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 3 p. 90-127
  • Hedley, R.C. 1923-24, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser4) Vol. 1 p. 110 (a bare mention)


  • Constable, Christopher, 2003, Aspects of the archaeology of the castle in the north of England C 1066-1216 (Doctoral thesis, Durham University) Available at Durham E-Theses Online