Ancient Monuments

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Bastle at Upper Denton

A Scheduled Monument in Upper Denton, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.9829 / 54°58'58"N

Longitude: -2.6018 / 2°36'6"W

OS Eastings: 361585.828987

OS Northings: 565533.782768

OS Grid: NY615655

Mapcode National: GBR BB8T.JK

Mapcode Global: WH910.00BV

Entry Name: Bastle at Upper Denton

Scheduled Date: 6 February 1979

Last Amended: 7 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014767

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27671

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Upper Denton

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Gilsland St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a roofless bastle standing two storeys high which is
located on level ground at the northern end of Upper Denton village. It is
constructed of squared coursed rubble with red sandstone dressings. The walls
are approximately 1.2m thick in the lower storey and the building measures
c.6m by 4.8m internally. Access to the ground floor of the bastle is through a
doorway in the north wall which retains its original chamfered red sandstone
jambs and lintel, and a drawbar tunnel for securing the door. Above is a void
where the original first floor doorway was situated; it is now a wide aperture
with only two jamb stones of the doorway remaining. In the east end wall there
is a small vent to the ground floor and above it, on the upper storey, there
is a fireplace recess. On either side of the fireplace are traces of
recesses which were probably used as cupboards, and in the gable is a small
window indicating that the roof space had been used as an attic. The south
wall was without openings on its ground floor. The upper floor walling,
however, has been rebuilt but part of this has fallen. The west end wall has a
small vent in the ground floor and another to the attic in the gable. There
are traces of a fireplace on the first floor. The bastle functioned as the
vicarage and is one of a number of fortified parsonages in the area. It was
latterly utilised as a barn.
All field boundaries and gateposts 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.
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 monument's somewhat ruinous appearance, the bastle at Upper Denton
survives reasonably well and retains a number of original architectural
features. It is one of a number of fortified parsonages in the area but is a
rare example in Cumbria of a bastle being utilised for such purposes.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 78-9
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Bastles, (1987)
SMR No. 320, Cumbria SMR, Bastle at Upper Denton, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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