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ETAL CASTLE

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  ETAL CASTLE TOWER HOUSE
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The monument known as Etal Castle was the second quadrangular castle to be completed in Northumberland, (by 1360) and comprises a tower house, outer enclosure or barmkin, a gatehouse, a corner tower, and the sites of various ancillary buildings which existed within the barmkin, built against the enclosing curtain wall. The earliest element is the tower, built by 1355. This is a rectangular building of four storeys. Externally it measures 15 metres x 10 metres and has walls 2 metres thick. Circa 1341 Edward III granted the lord of Etal licence to crenellate. Almost certainly the tower itself was already crenellated at this time, but the grant meant that its owner now had permission to extend the fortification to include the gatehouse, corner tower and curtain wall whose remains now extend around the edges of the barmkin. Documents indicate that the construction of these features took a minimum of 15 years. The curtain wall appears never to have been particularly strong, being only a little over 1 metre thick in its one remaining standing section, but the gatehouse is a formidable building comprising a two story structure with a central rib-vaulted gate passage, flanked to the fore by twin towers which projected above the battlements of the main building and also forward to cover to approach to the gate. Only the ground floor of the corner tower remains standing, surviving as a high, rib-vaulted chamber measuring 7 metres x 6 metres and incorporating a wooden loft supported by corbels set into the walls. In addition to the tower house and defensive buildings, there would have been various ancillary or service buildings within the barmkin, including, for example, stables, kitchens, quarters for servants and guardsmen, offices, a brewhouse, a bakehouse and numerous others. None survive as standing ruins, but their remains exist as buried features. In 1513 the castle was temporarily captured by the Scots. The site is in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the Historic England website.