Ancient Monuments

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Shilla Hill bastle 350m west of Comb

A Scheduled Monument in Tarset, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.2072 / 55°12'25"N

Longitude: -2.373 / 2°22'22"W

OS Eastings: 376361.893603

OS Northings: 590390.109611

OS Grid: NY763903

Mapcode National: GBR C8W7.15

Mapcode Global: WH8ZY.JC7Y

Entry Name: Shilla Hill bastle 350m west of Comb

Scheduled Date: 19 March 1965

Last Amended: 14 October 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008991

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25079

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Tarset

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Falstone with Greystead and Thorneyburn

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a bastle, a form of defended farmhouse
situated on the summit of Shilla Hill commanding the valley of the Tarset
Burn. The bastle is rectangular in shape and measures 14.5m by 7m externally
with walls of large unhewn stone 1.4m thick. They are best preserved on the
northern and eastern sides where they stand to a height of 2m. Shaped boulders
have been used to form quoin stones at the corners of the building. There is a
main entrance in the eastern wall giving access into the ground floor
basement; it has an arched roof over a lintel and is furnished with a draw bar
tunnel. It is thought that the west end of the bastle, which is encumbered by
fallen debris, contains the remains of a stair which would have given access
to the upper storey living area of the bastle. It is thought that the original
name of the bastle was Starr Head.

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.

Despite the fact that only the lower courses survive, the bastle 350m west of
Comb retains significant archaeological deposits. The importance of the
monument is enhanced by the survival of other bastles in the vicinity. Taken
together they add to our knowledge and understanding of post medieval
settlement at this time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hope-Dodds, M, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume XV, (1940), 271
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990), 41
Long, B, List Of Ancient Monuments- The Kielder Forests, (1988)
NY 79 SE 02,

Source: Historic England

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