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CastleUK Blog
August 2009
The blog page, a place where I can record and then archive my monthly updates and what's new in our hunt for castles UK.

This months castles, hills and a gate, are a good mix of sites from the east side of up north, that's North Yorkshire, Cleveland, County Durham and Northumberland to people above Scotch Corner.

July was castle hunting time, with a couple of nights at Langley Castle Hotel. A big long list of castles, bastles and towers, both new and old, with castle spotter stops at Corbridge, Hexham and on the way home Gateshead, don't ask me why Gatehead, no castle here I said but we did enjoy our visit. In fact Gatehead was the last stop of a very enjoyable last day, that started with the battlements tour at Langley, a nice way to end two fabulous nights at the castle. The tour got us nicely to Dilston when it opened at 11, where as luck would have it we bumped into the chairman of the North Pennines Heritage Trust, who owns and runs the castle. He kindly give us a guide and a history of Historic Dilston and said we were free to look around the castle and chapel, so in return I've quickly put the castle on the site and made it my wallpaper of the month. It was nice to get a warm welcome from a site, the day before we'd had the usual 'what are you doing' welcome, when taking pictures of a couple of bastles, which are visible from the road.
Anyway after Dilston, it was on to Aydon Castle, this time I correctly negotiated the road works in Corbridge and we soon arrived along with the sunshine. One of the finest and most unaltered examples of a 13th century English manor house, it was nice to return here after many years to take some better and sunnier pictures. As always the castle spotter was off on her owner, she hates waiting for me to take a picture of this and that and my ice lolly was also hampering the picture taking, so in the end I just had to sit down and finish it. Walking through the building, I would catch a glimpse of her or we would pass in a doorway and then she's off to the Smart, to carry on reading her book until I'd finished 'messing about'.
Looking north from Aydon Castle, you can see one of the many Halton Castles, this one is a 14th century tower which is private but you can get good views of it from the road and church. Driving to it, you don't realize it's on quite high ground but turn round and you see an unblemished view, well what a place to live.
After drinking in the view, it was off to Gateshead and then home, to plan a new hunt, this time its back to Bedford, can't wait.

Click on the pictures, for more information.

Dilston Castle Wallpaper
Dilston Castle, OS 87/SO NY 976-633 Northumberland England, is this months wallpaper.
The picture was taken in July 2009, on our recent castle hunt up north. The view was taken from the site of Dilston Hall, which is under going archaeological and conservation work by the North Pennines Heritage Trust and the Friends of Historic Dilston, who own and run Dilston Castle and Chapel
Langley Castle
Langley Castle, OS 87/NY 835-625 Northumberland England, was originally a medieval defensible stone hall house, founded by Antony de Lucy of Langley. The hall was destroyed by King David Bruce in 1346 and by the mid 14th century Sir Thomas de Lucy, had probably founded the stone tower house on the platform. With a first floor hall, the large rectangular four storey central block, is flanked by square five storey angle towers, on its east and west sides. The site is a privately owned hotel and is visible from the road. Access is restricted to guests with reservations for an overnight stay, a wedding ceremony or dining in the restaurant. Well what to say about this proper castle hotel, we were told we'd got a bargain when booking, after two days there, that man don't lie, we'll be back.
Whorlton Castle
Whorlton Castle, OS 93/NZ 481-024 Yorkshire England, is a late 11th century earthwork motte and bailey fortress, founded by the de Meynell family. In the mid to late 14th century, Sir John or Sir Philip Darcy founded the stone castle when adding a tower house and gatehouse to the motte. The rectangular three storey gatehouse stands partially within the ditch and its entrance passage was protected by inner and outer portcullises. The site is freely accessible in daylight hours. This castle could, should be so much better, it just needs a bit of tender loving care but like many of our castle sites it hopefully waits for its turn, go visit and give it some loving.
Dilston Castle
Dilston Castle, OS 87/NY 976-633 Northumberland England, was originally an early 12th century defensible manor house, founded by the lords of Dyvelston and Tyndale. Built against the steep escarpment formed by the Devil's Water, Sir William Claxton founded the stone castle in the early 15th century. Standing alongside a detached hall, within a larger defended enclosure, he added a three storey solar tower, with a barrel-vaulted basement pierced by gun-loops. The site is owned by the North Pennines Heritage Trust and is open, Wednesday to Sunday May to September 11:00-4:00pm. Great site, that's in good hands, you don't have to be a big castle, you just have to think big.
Sandwell Gate Hartlepool
Sandwell Gate, OS 93/NZ 527-336 County Durham England, is the only remaining stone gateway of the town walls of Hartlepool, founded in the reign of King Edward II. The remaining portion of the early 14th century town wall, serves as a sea wall to the southern flank of The Headland. The site is freely accessible in daylight hours. Well a visit here is a must, nice gate but it's the Hartlepool monkey-hangers saga that brings us here. Folklore says a French ship was wrecked off Hartlepool in the Napoleonic Wars. A monkey found in the water was apparently questioned by the fishermen and they held a trial but since they had never seen a French person, they presumed the monkey was a French spy and passed the infamous sentence to death by hanging. A top banana tale that couldn't be made up, if you don't mind the pun.
Castle Hill Middleton-on-Leven
Castle Hill, OS 93/NZ 461-103 Cleveland England, is an early 12th century earth and timber ringwork fortress, founded by Robert de Brus. Commanding the end of a steep bluff formed by the River Leven, there is no signs of an attached bailey on the level plateau to the west. The site is visible from a public footpath, which passes the castle from Weary Bank. Big old earthwork here and its a nice walk to get to it, which starts from the bridge over the River Leven and the path is on the west bank. The path and bridge are guarded by a WWII pillbox on higher ground to the west and I'm always fascinated why they are there, who said put one there in the middle of nowhere, they'll come is way. If I didn't hunt castles, pillboxes would be the next best things, I think I'll get a book on them, then I can have a read up after I spotting them and not be left wondering why. The other unusual thing that happened on the way to this site, was that we hit a bank of fog, one minute clear sky's and then a wall of fog, which didn't clear even when we got up on top of the castle.
Round Hill Ingleby Barwick
Round Hill, OS 93/NZ 432-129 Cleveland England, is a medieval earthwork motte and bailey fortress, standing above the confluence of the Leven and Tees rivers. To the east is a kidney-shaped bailey, with the remains of an eastern inner rampart and a wide shallow ditch. There is no structural evidence of occupation or any known history and the small motte has been damaged and flattened by digging, when previously interpreted as a tumulus. The site is freely accessible in daylight hours. This one takes a bit of locating but finding the way out of the large residential estate it's next to, is the hardest bit. So here goes, just head north on Roundhill Avenue and you will see a western clearing to open ground, once there just follow the paths south, going through the hedge lines and you will see it just before the ground starts to fall away.

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