||Ordnance Survey map reference: NY565748 This material is provided with the kind permission of the author, Mike Jackson, from his book Castles of Cumbria - Carel Press & Cumbria County Library, Carlisle, 1990. ISBN 1872365051. All copyright is retained.|
|This ruinous castle stands on a mound in the NE angle of a Roman fort immediately N of the church, 24km NE of CARLISLE. The mound, c.3m high, was formed by isolating the angle of the fort with an L-shaped ditch and throwing the material inwards to heighten it. The castle was quadrangular, c.27m square over walls 2m thick, at base, with a gatehouse and barbican, c.7.32 x 10.06m, probably added c.1470, projecting from the W side. The S wall of the castle, c.9m high, survives almost to its full original height, and at first-floor level has remains of two chimney flues and two blocked Tudor period windows.||
Photo courtesy Don Noble, 1994
Parts of the other walls survive and the interior, probably originally having lean-to buildings around a small courtyard, is filled with grass-covered mounds of fallen masonry. The gatehouse, c.7.32m square, contains a flight of steps in the W wall ascending to a short passage and garderobe in the S wall, the passage wall containing two 'spy-holes' overlooking the interior. A portion of the W wall extending beyond the entrance is all that remains of a barbican added in the 16c. The castle was reputedly founded c.1092 by Bueth, a Saxon or Danish chieftain who must have been an adherent of the Normans, as otherwise it is unlikely that he would have been allowed to erect and occupy a castle. It is more probable that it was founded by William II, and handed over to Bueth once he had proved trustworthy, and was probably confiscated from Bueth's grandson Robert, who fought with the Scots in 1174. Before 1210 the manor had been acquired by the de Levingtons, and was purchased c.1271-77 by John de Swinburne, sheriff of Cumberland, who may have rebuilt the castle with masonry. It was confiscated in 1296 from Adam de Swinburne (died c.1327) because of his adherence to John Balliol but was later restored to him and c.1327 passed by marriage to John de Strivelyn, Constable of Edinburgh Castle. The first reference to a castle here was after John de Strivelyn's death in 1378 and a keystone bearing his coat of arms, reputedly once above the castle entrance, is now set into the wall of an adjacent farm building. In 1391 it passed to the de Middletons, who allowed it to decay, and by 1470 when it was granted to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, both castle and manor had been 'long lying waste'. Richard, as Warden of the West March, is thought to have repaired the castle and also to have added the gate-house, but it is possible that the gate-house was added during the Tudor period, possibly after 1517 when a plan to demolish the castle and eplace it with a new one at Arthuret, 15km WSW, was abandoned. In 1541-2 repairs were made which included deepening the ditches and the addition of a barbican, an extra £40 being allocated for its completion later in 1542. Its demise began c.1550, and a survey made in 1565 records that the barmekin wall was 'utterly decayed, the ditches filled with earth and mud, whereby men and cattle may pass in and fourth', and there was a breach, 15.24m wide, in the N wall. The estimated cost of repairs, £320, was evidently too much and the castle was more or less abandoned. In 1614 the manor and castle were leased to the Earl of Cumberland, but in 1629 both were granted to the Grahams of Netherby who held them into the 20c. For a short time in 1639 the ruins were garrisoned by 100 men, and it was reputedly slighted by them on their departure, but there is a local tradition that it was destroyed by a Parliamentary battery sited at 'Cannon Holes', an earthwork a short distance to the E, and cannonballs have been found in and around the castle.
Copywright © 1990, M.J. Jackson, used with permission. May be electronically viewed for personal use only. [Page originated by Don Noble 6 Sep 1997]