"The buildings form an intense group and they are, of course entirely characteristic of the area (if a little bit more sophisticated than one might have expected in such a wild place). Though in that wonderful stonework and surrounded by those wonderful trees they look almost timeless".
John Grundy, May 2007
The farmstead at Carraw, situated on the vallum of Hadrian's Wall, is all that remains of the vill of Carrawer, a member of the liberty of Tynedale.
Carraw is believed to be first recorded in the "The Black Book of Hexham" in the twelfth century as "Charrow" and then later in the assize rolls of 1279 as "Karrawe", in the close rolls of 1280 as "Cadrere", in the same form in the subsidy rolls of 1296 and finally in "The Black Book of Hexham" again in 1296 as "Carrawer". The place name is thought to represent an old British plural of "carr" meaning "a rock", or a compound of "carr" and the old English "raw" meaning "row". The name seems to have been influenced by the middle English "quarriere" and the middle latin "quadraria". Hence the original settlement was built on or near a row of rocks.
Medieval documents state that the settlement had been granted to Hexham Priory in the 12th century and was used as a summer retreat for the monks at the Priory.
Here in former times stood a Pele Tower, to which the priory at Hexham added a stone Manor House in 1406; but both these, in 1542 were uninhabited and in decay; and the whole estate though let on a lease from the crown to Sir Renold Carnaby was “lying waste and unplenished”. Evidence of the former Manor House can be found amongst the stonework of the surrounding farm buildings.
Local knowledge indicates that Carraw was also a former Coaching Inn, providing accommodation and rest for the weary traveller on the Newcastle to Carlisle route. It has been said that passing Drovers, as they moved their stock to and from market, purchased a well earned drink straight out of the cellar through a narrow opening onto the road. The opening still exists today albeit as a window.
Local building historian, John Grundy, as part of a study of farms within Northumberland National Park, believes the current farmhouse at Carraw is basically 18th century, which was then extended and altered in the first half of the 19th century – probably round about 1840 (and again in 2007). The surroundings farm buildings are believed to be about 1840 also.
The remains of a post-medieval building were found during a watching brief at Carraw Farm in 2006. The remains included a section of wall built of reused dressed Roman sandstone, a possible cobbled interior floor surface and a stone rubble demolition layer. Finds from the site included pottery, glass and metalwork, the majority of which suggest an 18th to 19th century date. The building probably dates to the period 1745-1866.
Evidence also shows that the English surname "Calrow" is of local or habitation origin, being derived from the place name "Carraw". The original bearer of the surname would have been on one who dwelt "at carraw".