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Sockburn Castle

In the civil parish of Sockburn.
In the historic county of Durham.
Modern Authority of Darlington.
1974 county of County Durham.
Medieval County of County Palatinate of Durham.

OS Map Grid Reference: NZ35030705
Latitude 54.45768° Longitude -1.46137°

Sockburn Castle has been described as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


Earthworks of a Medieval moated manor house and associated structures or possible deserted Medieval village and post-Medieval formal garden. No surviving remains of a castle are visible. Palatinate licence to crenellate granted to Sir Christopher Conyers in 1470.

Leland describes it thus: 'the eldest house of the Coniers with the demains about it of a mile cumpace of exceding pleasaunt ground, is almost made an isle, as Tese ryver windeth about it.' 'At a little distance below the maner-place,' he adds, 'is a grete were for fish. (VCH, 1914, Ref. Toulmin-Smith)

An inquisition taken in 1431, following the death of Robert Conyers, describes a manor house containing a hall and a chamber, as well as a granary, stable and dovecote. Also belonging to the manor were 'three orchards, three cottages, with their gardens' worth 30 shillings per annum; a watermill worth 100 shillings; the milne-halgh, 40 shillings; an enclosed wood called Thirstandale of 10 acres worth three shillings and sixpence, and 100 acres each of arable and meadow valued together at £4 13s 4d (Cursitors Records 1884: 180). (Went and Jecock, 2007)

A Durham Palatinate licence to crenellate was granted in 1470 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).


Sockburn was granted to the Coyners soon after the Norman Conquest apparent for the service of killing a 'monstrous and poysonous vermine or wyverne, and aske or werme'. The Conyers were an important local baronial family with many military duties such as constable of Durham Castle. Another of their manors was Bishopton where they built a motte and bailey. This prime manor of theirs must have been fortified from an early date (but not necessarily with a motte). However, because this was the family caput the site seems to have been rebuilt many time and nothing now remains that is clearly a fortification. The 1470 licence probably represents one of these many rebuildings. As with all licences it should not be taken as an intent to build a major fortification but as as a special honorific for a fairly standard great house with some domestic defences and martial decorations. It is probably that some parts of even this C15 house were of timber and earlier halls on the site are even more likely to have been timber with only some few buildings or parts of buildings in stone. The earthworks to the south and west of All Saints church are complex and represent at least two Halls on different sites with the standing Sockburn Hall representing a third site.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:08

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