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Dunwalloght Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Thornhill; Thorn Hill

In the civil parish of Cumrew.
In the historic county of Cumberland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Cumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY55815021
Latitude 54.84474° Longitude -2.68965°

Dunwalloght Castle has been described as a probable Masonry Castle.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


There are no visible remains of Dunwalloght Castle. A building was probably sited on the steading at NY 55815021 where two contiguous enclosures, barely traceable as slight stone-studded banks, resemble the 1908 plan. Adjacent, and set at angle of 35 to the former are two further enclosures of roughly the same proportions formed by turf-covered building foundations approximately 1m wide and 0.5m high (see survey). The disparity in condition between the two complexes, however, suggests that they are not contemporary. The whole occupies an elevated position on slightly undulating ground. The only apparent 'earthworks' are an artificial scarp 1.3m high with an accompanying berm 6m wide separating the building area from natural slopes in the NE; and the vague impression of a ditch continued along the SE side. There is no evidence of a 'moat' in the SW where it was noted by Hutchison, and the site is contained on the NW by a small natural ridge. (PastScape–ref Field Investigators Comments F1 RE 04-JUL-72)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1307 Aug 24 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).


Perriam & Robinson don't give much information. Isolated position on mountain side but with view overlooking Eden valley. Date uncertain, could be post medieval. Jackson rejects as settlement site. From Mannix & Whellan 'In a field near the church may be seen the outline of an extensive quadrangle, and when Hutchinson wrote, there was, what he conceived, indications of a large edifice having occupied the spot. These have been conjectured to be the remains of Dunwalloght castle, but there is not the least evidence in support of this assumption; and when two small mounds were removed in 1832, not a single trace of masonry or foundation was found. The Dacres formerly possessed two small estates here, which were sold to Sir Christopher Musgrave; and Dugdale, in his Baronage, tells us that they had a castle called Dunwalloght, situated near the borders; but beyond this allusion nothing is known, either of its history or its site.' see also Dunmalloght
Gatehouse favours this as the site of the licence to crenellate Dunmalloght granted to William Dacre in 1307, as here there are some remains and the Dacre's are known to have had land near Cumrew. This land outside their main holdings in the Lake District at Dacre might have been newly acquired in 1307 and the prestige of a Licence to Crenellate been of more value in this area in establishing the kudos of the Dacre family. It is also arguable that a small force of troops here (as paid for in 1317 after the war with Scotland had restarted) at a position overlooking the main routs along the Eden valley make more strategic sense than locating such a force south of Penrith in the economically insignificant Lakes. The Dunwalloght name may also have been new and a deliberate reference to their older holding at Dacre - which sometimes seems to be called Dunmalloght (the m to w shift is probably a much later change). As William's son Ranulph was granted a licence for Naworth Castle in 1335 it may be that this castle site was abandoned after the death of William in 1318. It is possible the remains are so scant because the castle was unfinished. An effigy in Cumrew church has been attributed to William's widow Joan Gernet (TCWAAS, 1892) and, if this is so, this would be supportive evidence. This site does not have the spectacular 'defensive' quality of the more tradition site at Dunmallard Hill but is a likely site for a high status house giving access to free range hunting over the fells. In 1307 the expectation was that the war with Scotland was over and that the longstanding peace would return.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:29

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