Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Bastle at Horneystead, 400m south west of The Ash

A Scheduled Monument in Wark, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.0898 / 55°5'23"N

Longitude: -2.2917 / 2°17'30"W

OS Eastings: 381480.556495

OS Northings: 577304.921051

OS Grid: NY814773

Mapcode National: GBR D9FL.N7

Mapcode Global: WH90K.RBXD

Entry Name: Bastle at Horneystead, 400m south west of The Ash

Scheduled Date: 28 November 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009674

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25114

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Wark

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Wark St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a bastle, a form of defended farmhouse,
situated in a commanding defensive position on a rocky elevation above the
Warks Burn to the south. The bastle is rectangular in shape and measures 11.9m
by 7m externally with walls of large roughly coursed rubble 1.3m-1.5m thick.
Only the lower parts of the bastle are standing with walls up to 4.5m high.
The original square headed doorway giving access into the ground floor
basement is situated in the centre of the west wall. It has a rebated surround
with a relieving arch over and is furnished with a draw bar tunnel and a
hanging socket for a door. A slit window, now blocked, is visible in the
western end of the south wall. The first floor of the bastle which has now
collaped into the interior was carried on a barrel vault, traces of which can
be seen within the rubble. A drawing of the bastle in 1940 shows the western
part of the vault still standing. The bastle was apparently inhabited until
the mid 19th century when the present farm complex surrounding the bastle was
built. The two stone walls which adjoin the bastle at the east and west sides
and the fence line which runs from the north wall are excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.

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.

The bastle at Horneystead survives reasonably well and is a good example of
its type. 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
Hope-Dodds, M, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume XV, (1940), 293
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990), 11

Source: Historic England

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