Ancient Monuments

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Bastle and round cairn at Hole Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Bellingham, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.1561 / 55°9'22"N

Longitude: -2.2102 / 2°12'36"W

OS Eastings: 386703.790297

OS Northings: 584663.59236

OS Grid: NY867846

Mapcode National: GBR F80T.9G

Mapcode Global: WHB1C.0NTL

Entry Name: Bastle and round cairn at Hole Farm

Scheduled Date: 22 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008993

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25081

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Bellingham

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Bellingham

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a bastle, a form of defended farmhouse,
partially situated on a low knoll, overlooking the valley of the River Rede to
the north, east and south. The bastle is rectangular in shape and measures
10.5m by 6.6m externally with walls of large unhewn stone 1.4m thick, the
whole based on a projecting plinth. The bastle stands two storeys high; the
walls are 10m to the eaves and 14m to the tops of the gables. The original
square headed doorway into the ground floor basement is situated in the
western gable and is visible from the adjoining farm building; the present
entrance through the east wall is a later addition, but the slit window above
is an original feature. The interior has a barrel vaulted ground floor with a
ladder hole by which access was gained to the upper storey. The first floor
was also reached by an external stone stair leading up to a platform
surrounded by a parapet wall on the south wall of the bastle. The upper
doorway is placed at the eastern end of the front wall; it has a chamfered
stone surround and a drawbar tunnel. Two windows, one each side of the
doorway, are 19th century additions but original windows are visible in the
east wall and at the east end of the north wall. Inside the bastle at first
floor level there are wall cupboards against each gable and a fireplace on
the western side. A stone stair, in the south east corner, gives access to an
attic storey. The attic has two square windows in the south wall and on the
east gable there are five pigeon holes. The monument is a Grade II* Listed
Building. The bastle partly stands on a round cairn in which a Bronze Age
stone coffin or cist was discovered in 1972. The cist is still in its original
position 2.5m north of the north wall of the bastle. The cairn is 9m in
diameter and protrudes from underneath the bastle at the north east and north
west sides.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age
(c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or
multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined
compartments called cists. In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch.
Often occupying prominent locations, cairns are a major visual element in the
modern landscape. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands and are
the stone equivalent of the earthen round barrows of the lowlands. Their
considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide
important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organization
amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of
their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered
worthy of protection.
The bastle at Hole Farm survives very well. The importance of the monument is
enhanced by the survival of other bastles in the vicinity. Taken together they
will add to our knowledge and understanding of post medieval settlement.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990)
DOE, Buildings of Special Hist & Arch Interest,
NY 88 SE 14,
NY 88 SE 21,

Source: Historic England

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