The name means ‘gap in the wall’ and the wall is Hadrian’s Wall. Edward I stayed on the site in 1306 but he didn’t actually stay in this castle although he may well have paused to admire the wall that the Romans built. John Thirlwall began building his castle in 1330 on a rocky outcrop next to the Tipalt Burn with the handily placed dressed stone that some one had conveniently left laying around. It was just as well he did. The Scottish Wars of Independence were ongoing but battles were turning into raids. The riding times of the border reivers had begun. Having a good stout stone wall along with a thick oak door protected by an iron yett were handy things to have and as a consequence the Thirlwalls did well. When Lancelot or Lionel Thirlwell died in 1582 he left his widow and eight children comfortably off. Of course, after the Union of the Crowns in 1603 there was less need to live in a cold and isolated castle and by the 1660s the Thirlwalls had taken themselves off to Hexham. Not that this stopped the Scottish Parliamentarian army sleighting it during the 1640s.
All that remains today is a ruin and a legend. According to the story there was a rather alarming raid in the offing and the Thirlwall’s needed to hide their possession from the thieving Scots. They happened to have a particularly fine jewel-laden gold table (don’t we all) which a servant hid down a well where it remains hidden to this day. Depending on which version of the story you read, the servants still there as well!