Hugh de Reymes, a wealthy Suffolk merchant, brought the manor and began construction of the house in 1296, at the end of an unusually long period of peace in the border regions. The building is naturally defended on one side by the steep valley of the Cor Burn, but was otherwise unfortified. Hugh died soon after and, unfortunately for Robert de Reymes, his son, the building of his house coincided with a new period of conflict with Scotland which led to frequent Scottish raids throughout the area. In 1305, Robert obtained a licence to crenellate his property and set about improving the defences with the addition of battlements and a circuit of curtain walls. These didn't stop the Scots from sacking the property in 1315 and again in 1346. However, Emery does make the point that Scottish raids did not start until 1311 and the licence was not a direct result of a raid, although tensions were increasing in the area.
On the same date Robert and Thomas de Bekeryng obtained a licence for a market and fair at Bolam (CChR 1300-26 p. 25)
Here the licence to crenellate, at first, really does appear to be a response for a need for fortification. Was Robert unaware of the 'real' situation regarding the need for a licence, was he being over cautious? Or was he just establishing himself as a 'gentlemen' with a crenellated house? Had he funded some of the Scottish wars and was this licence a royal recognition of that help? If the risk was so high what was the purpose of the licence for a market? Raids didn't start until 1311.
'There was therefore no compelling reason for Raymes to build any fortifications when he acquired his licence. However, as a parvenu, he still needed to mark his arrival in Northumbrian society' (King, 2007, p. 387)
Northumbrian gentry society was particularly defined by militarism.