Simonburn Castle, Northumberland
North-West of Hexham
End of Castle Ln, W of Simonburn
Near NE48 3AW
Simonburn Castle is a 13th century tower house located on a steep hill formed by the junction of two streams, the Castle Burn and Hopshield Burn.
Today all the upper storeys to the tower have long collapsed, leaving only a barrel vaulted ground floor of the tower, covered with undergrowth.
~ History ~
1136 ~ Simon de Senlis, 4th Earl of Huntingdon builds himself a motte at the junction of two streams. As a staunch support of King Stephen of England, nephew of William the Conqueror, who had taken the throne the previous year, he recognises the threat of King David of Scotland to the Northumberland and Cumbria borders, due to King David being the uncle to King Stephen's bitter rival to the throne, the Empress Matilda.
1141 ~ Simon joins King Stephen's siege of Lincoln Castle, but are themselves attacked by a relief force loyal to Empress Matilda, commanded by Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester, Matilda's half-brother.
As soon as the battle is joined, the majority of the King's leading nobles, abandon the King. The remaining loyal nobles including Simon de Senlis are captured with the King, who is taken and imprisoned in Bristol.
1142 ~ The King's release is secured with the exchange of Matilda's half brother Robert of Gloucester, who had been captured in the Rout of Winchester. This ends Matilda's brief ascendancy to the throne in the wars with Stephen.
Simon is rewarded with the title Earl of Huntingdon.
1153 ~ The loyal Simon dies a year before his King's own death and before Matilda's son is made King Henry II of England. King Henry restores the Earldom of Huntingdon to his ally King Malcolm IV of Scotland.
1291 ~ A tower house is built by Henry Graham.
1293 ~ The fortifield tower house passes to Adam Swinburne.
1358 ~ The tower passes to the Heron family.
1524 ~ Simonburn Castle is recorded as being a suitable residence for the keeper of Tynedale with a garrison of 50 men.
1541~ The castle is considered of some importance and described as a strong four storey tower in good condition held by the Heron family.
1550 ~ The tower is abandoned in favour of Chipcase Castle.
1670 ~ The tower is recorded as being in a ruinous condition.
1718 ~ Simonburn is abandoned, sold and later destroyed by treasure hunters, who after much destruction find nothing of any worth.
1725 ~ The neighbouring Allgood family purchase the ruin.
1766 ~ The Allgood's build themselves a folly on the west side of the tower with some restortaion work to the tower.