Ancient Monuments

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Hill House bastle and associated enclosures, 850m NNW of Sidwood Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Tarset, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.2017 / 55°12'6"N

Longitude: -2.362 / 2°21'43"W

OS Eastings: 377055.565368

OS Northings: 589774.209098

OS Grid: NY770897

Mapcode National: GBR C8Y9.F4

Mapcode Global: WH8ZY.PJF5

Entry Name: Hill House bastle and associated enclosures, 850m NNW of Sidwood Cottage

Scheduled Date: 8 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010034

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25137

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 in a strongly defensive position on a low promontory commanding the
Tarset Valley to the north, west and east. The bastle is visible as the grass
covered walls of a rectangular building 5m by 6m and standing to a maximum
height of 1.5m. It stands at the centre of a large enclosure 36m north east to
south west by a maximum of 60m north west to south east, defined by a bank of
stone and earth 1m high. Within the enclosing bank there is a scooped
ditch-like feature on average 4m wide which would have provided extra defence
on the most vulnerable sides of the bastle. There is an apparent entrance
through the enclosure bank at the north east corner. Adjacent to the bastle,
on its south side, there are the remains of at least one rectangular building
and an associated yard visible as the low stone founded walls. These are
interpreted as the remains of a farmstead of similar or slightly later date to
the bastle. Attached to the external side of the enclosure bank, immediately
north of the entrance on the edge of the steep valley side, are the remains of
two enclosures defined by low banks 0.6m high. The first is roughly square and
measures 5m with an entrance in its south west corner. The second enclosure is
irregularly shaped and measures 10m by 4m. Hill House is first mentioned in
1552, then called Haugh-Hill House and it was raided in 1583. During the 17th
century it was occupied by the Hunters. It is not shown on a map of 1769 and
may have been deserted by that time.

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.

Hill House bastle survives reasonably well and retains significant
archaeological deposits. The enclosing wall is an unusual feature which
enhances the importance of the bastle as does the survival of other bastles in
the immediate vicinity, taken together they will add to our knowledge and
understanding of settlement and society at this time.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990)
Long, B, List Of Ancient Monuments- The Kielder Forests, (1988)
NY 78 NE 03,

Source: Historic England

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