Ancient Monuments

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Bastle, 480m north east of Shittleheugh

A Scheduled Monument in Otterburn, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.2495 / 55°14'58"N

Longitude: -2.2076 / 2°12'27"W

OS Eastings: 386896.568431

OS Northings: 595057.882542

OS Grid: NY868950

Mapcode National: GBR F70R.V0

Mapcode Global: WHB0Z.290Z

Entry Name: Bastle, 480m north east of Shittleheugh

Scheduled Date: 27 August 1962

Last Amended: 25 May 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008426

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25042

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Otterburn

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Otterburn St John the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a bastle, a form of defended medieval
farmhouse, situated on a west facing slope of moorland with extensive views of
Redesdale to the north, west and south. The structure, composed of roughly
hewn stone is rectangular in shape and measures 13m by 6.5m externally with
walls 1.2m thick. The gables of the bastle stand to full height but the upper
courses of the front and back walls have fallen and the bastle is roofless. An
original ground floor entrance, placed rather unusually in the front wall
rather than the usual gable end, remains intact with a lintel and two drawbar
tunnels. Immediately in front of the doorway there are the remains of a porch
structure with an outer doorway showing features similar to those of the inner
door. It is thought that this structure either contained or carried a stairway
to the upper storey living area. The basement of the bastle is furnished with
several narrow slit windows, two in the north wall and one in each of the
other three walls and there are traces of a support for a first floor
fireplace. At first floor level, two wall cupboards are visible in the western
gable and one in the east. Socket holes for timbers in the east wall suggest
that there was an attic above the first floor. Attached to the east wall of
the bastle there are the foundations of a smaller rectangular building
measuring 7m by 5.5m; this structure is clearly later than the bastle. The
bastle is 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.

Shittleheugh bastle survives reasonably well without any post-bastle
modifications and retains many unusual architectural features. The existence
of a possible attic storey, a porch structure and the positioning of its main
doorway suggest that this is an example of a rare `superior' type of bastle
occupied by a resident of higher status than usual.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990), 30-31

Source: Historic England

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