Scaleby Castle

Has been described as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameScaleby Castle
Alternative NamesSkalby
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishScaleby

Scaleby Castle is a rare example of a circular moated site while the castle itself is also a rare example of a quadrangular castle in north west England. The ruinous portions of Scaleby Castle still retain substantial amounts of upstanding medieval fabric. Its location close to the Scottish border meant that it functioned as the first line of defence against attacking Scottish armies and as a focal point for English military campaigns against the Scots in the late 13th/early 14th centuries. As such it provides an insight into the constantly changing design and defensive strategies employed in medieval castles.

The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of the ruined portions of Scaleby Castle, a class of medieval castle known as quadrangular, together with the circular moat surrounding the castle and the island created by the moat. It is located a short distance to the south of Scaleby village and includes the upstanding remains of a medieval sandstone tower, an adjacent polygonal tower, the gatehouse with flanking guardchambers and curtain wall, an infilled inner moat which is considered to have surrounded or partially surrounded the slightly elevated mound upon which the castle was constructed, an extant circular outer moat and its outer bank, and the archaeologically sensitive ground between the inner and outer moats where buried remains associated with the medieval occupation of the castle are expected to survive. The date of the earliest building at Scaleby is unknown, however, documentary sources indicate that Robert de Tilliol was granted a licence to crenellate his dwelling here, thought to be a farmhouse or grange, in 1307. During the 14th and 15th centuries a tower house was constructed, together with a gatehouse and a polygonal tower which formed part of the curtain wall enclosing a courtyard. By the late 16th/early 17th centuries the castle had passed into the Musgrave family and a large portion was rebuilt by Sir Edward Musgrave

During the Civil War it was besieged by Parliamentarian forces on two occassions and eventually in 1648 the victorious attackers set fire to the castle. It was then sold to Richard Gilpin whose son, William, rebuilt the western half of the south range in about 1685. By 1741 Scaleby Castle was deserted and remained thus until repairs were undertaken in about 1800 by Rowland Fawcett. The south range was rebuilt between 1835-40. The upstanding medieval fabric is of red sandstone and consists of the remains of a four-storey tower of which only two walls partially survive above ground floor level. The tower has a thick chamfered plinth, chamfered string courses to each floor and chamfered lancet windows. The interior has remains of a vaulted lower chamber with the remains of a newel staircase in the thickness of the wall. The adjacent two-storey polygonal tower has 15th century windows to the ground floor and chamfered lancet windows on the first floor. The two-storey gatehouse has a round-arched entrance with a recessed pointed arch and portcullis room above. Flanking the gateway are vaulted guardhouses. A crenellated angle turret stands at the castle's south west corner and beyond that a length of crenellated curtain wall runs south to join the castle's 19th century south wing. The site of the infilled inner moat is suggested by the presence of poorly-drained areas on the castle's north and west sides; the western arm of this moat was still functioning as a garden feature during the mid-20th century. The date of construction of the circular outer moat is unknown. It remains water-filled and is flanked by an outer bank. (Scheduling Report)

Castle. Probably late C13, licence to crenellate granted to Sir Robert de Tylliol, 1307; mostly rebuilt in C15, with late C16 wing for Sir Edward Musgrave, altered in late C17 for William Gilpin and remodelled about 1838, probably by Thomas Rickman for the Fawcett family. Oldest work is of red sandstone from the nearby Roman Wall; later work of mixed Roman Wall stone and ashlar, with most recent work of red sandstone ashlar; slate roofs, brick and ashlar chimney stacks. L-shaped buildings with angle curtain wall form roughly a square; circular enclosing moat now filled; remaining water-filled outer moat. 4-storey, single-bay tower house, now in ruins, has 3-storey, 3-bay great hall adjoining to south; projecting 2-storey open roof polygonal curtain tower, adjoins to north-west; north-west facing 2-storey gatehouse, with joining high curtain wall, enclosing small courtyard; south range, at right angles to the great hall, is of 2 periods, that to right 3 storeys and attic, bays and later building left of 3 storeys, 2 bays. Tower house has extremely thick chamfered plinth and chamfered string courses to each floor, chamfered lancet windows. Interior has remains of vaulted lower chamber, with remains of newel staircase in thickness of the wall, all other floors gone and walls in ruins, probably as a result of destruction after 1648 siege. Curtain tower has C15 windows to ground floor and chamfered lancets above; wall probably battlemented but now in ruins. Wall to courtyard has inner gate giving access to tower house. Adjoining gatehouse has round arch entrance with recessed pointed arch. Large angle buttress, with large raised panels above entrance with central recess. Carved stone coat of arms of de Tylliols, to left, and central carved Gilpin arms above entrance. Interior has porters' lodges flanking entrance, with portcullis room above. Great hall has stepped entrance dated 1965. Sash windows with glazing bars and hood moulds were added in 1680's; filled slit vents. Entrance from courtyard has pointed arch. Interior had tunnel vaulted lower chamber. South range has large stepped angle buttresses; building to right of 1567-1606 on earlier foundations has sash windows of 1680's and c1838, with above-eaves gabled dormers; projecting 3-storey bay ends in gabled dormer. Circa 1838 building left has mullioned casement windows with glazing bars and hood moulds, that on ground floor left altered to a French window. End wall has C19 mullioned windows with quatrefoil window in gable angle. Coupled battlemented stone chimney stacks. Rear has courtyard entrance dated 1737 with cartouche of Richard Gilpin. Sash windows with glazing bars and C19 mullioned windows have square leaded panes. Birthplace of the Rev William Gilpin and his brother Sawrey Gilpin. (Listed Building Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY449624
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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

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  • Curwen, J.F., 1926, 'Scaleby Castle' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 26 p. 398-414 online copy
  • Graham, T.H.B., 1921, 'Scaleby' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 21 p. 139-51 online copy
  • 1908, 'Proceedings' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 8 p. 376-8 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1894, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward II (1307-13) Vol. 1 p. 8 online copy
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 158
  • Green, M.A.E.(ed), 1872, Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Elizabeth, Addenda 1580-1625 p. 17-18 no. 44 (Reference for for Dacre's 1580 survey of the West March) online copy
  • Bain, J., 1894, Calendar of Letters and Papers relating to the Borders of England and Scotland (Edinburgh: HMSO) Vol. 1 1560-1594 p. 124 (Mulgrave letter of 1584 on Border riders) online copy