Ancient Monuments

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Bastle at Low Leam Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Corsenside, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.1695 / 55°10'10"N

Longitude: -2.1957 / 2°11'44"W

OS Eastings: 387633.838

OS Northings: 586152.607

OS Grid: NY876861

Mapcode National: GBR F83N.FP

Mapcode Global: WHB1C.7BP9

Entry Name: Bastle at Low Leam Farm

Scheduled Date: 31 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008269

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25035

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Corsenside

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Corsenside St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The bastle, a defended medieval farmhouse, is situated among farm buildings
12m to the north of the present farmhouse. The structure, composed of blocks
of roughly squared stone, and surviving in original form to eaves level, is
roughly rectangular in plan, measuring 9.4m by 5.6m within stone walls 1.2m
thick. The basement, or byre, was entered through a doorway in the west gable;
this is square headed and displays a relieving arch over the lintel and two
draw bar tunnels. The doorways in the east and north walls are later
additions. There is an original slit window in the south wall of the byre
which has been blocked at a later date. The top stone course of the byre
projects outwards in order to carry the heavy timbers which supported the
upper storey. The upper storey was used as the main living area of the farm
and access was gained through a door placed in the south wall, now blocked and
only visible from a later farm building built against the south wall; also
visible is a blocked slit window and an inscribed stone carrying the initials
`M C' and a date thought to read `1602'. The walls of the bastle were raised
in the 19th century and it has a modern roof. The monument is also a Grade II
Listed Building.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Bastles are small thick-walled farmhouses in which the living quarters are
situated above a ground floor byre. The vast majority are simple rectangular
buildings with the byre entrance typically placed in one gable end, an upper
door in the side wall, small stoutly-barred windows and few architectural
features or details. Some have stone barrel vaults to the basement but the
majority had a first floor of heavy timber beams carrying stone slabs. The
great majority of bastles are solitary rural buildings, although a few
nucleated settlements with more than one bastle are also known. Most bastles
were constructed between about 1575 and 1650, although earlier and later
examples are also known. They were occupied by middle-rank farmers. Bastles
are confined to the northern border counties of England, in Cumbria,
Northumberland and Durham. The need for such strongly defended farmsteads can
be related to the troubled social conditions in these border areas during the
later Middle Ages. Less than 300 bastles are known to survive, of which a
large number have been significantly modified by their continuing use as
domestic or other buildings. All surviving bastles which retain significant
original remains will normally be identified as nationally important.

The bastle at Low Leam Farm survives in a very good state of preservation and
is a good example of its type.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 84
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990), 13

Source: Historic England

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