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Deserted medieval village including bastle at Ironhouse, 750m west of High Shaw

A Scheduled Monument in Hepple, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.2788 / 55°16'43"N

Longitude: -2.1059 / 2°6'21"W

OS Eastings: 393372.740022

OS Northings: 598304.543605

OS Grid: NY933983

Mapcode National: GBR F7QD.WH

Mapcode Global: WHB0T.MLF1

Entry Name: Deserted medieval village including bastle at Ironhouse, 750m west of High Shaw

Scheduled Date: 30 August 1962

Last Amended: 10 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017927

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20912

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Hepple

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Elsdon St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a deserted medieval settlement situated on the south
side of the narrow valley of Watty's Sike. The settlement consists of a line
of at least nine steadings (farmhouses), one of which, towards the west end of
the settlement, is occupied by the ruined remains of a defended farmhouse or
bastle. The bastle, constructed of roughly squared stone and surviving in
parts to first floor level, is rectangular in plan, measuring 10.5m by 4m
within stone walls 1.4m thick. The basement or byre is entered through a
doorway at the centre of the east gable and was lit by slit windows in the
south and east walls. Unlike other bastles in the vicinity, that at Ironhouse
does not have a vaulted basement and the first floor living area was carried
on a wooden floor; the beam holes which supported the floor are visible in the
north wall. At first floor level there are the remains of wall cupboards in
both gables and traces of a hearth at the east end. To the east and west of
the bastle there are the remains of the stone foundations of at least seven
other buildings; these turf-covered buildings measure 9m by 6m and their stone
walls stand in places up to 1m high. A circular well is located immediately
outside the bastle on the south-west side. Also to the south-west of the
settlement there are the well-preserved remains of walled enclosures; the
paddocks, garths and fields in which animals were kept. Local legend gives
the name Ironhouse to the settlement whose main industry was iron working.
Although the extant remains are sixteenth century in date, the earliest known
documentary reference to the settlement is of 1398.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets,
paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community
devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural
landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages
provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal
point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each
parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied
continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were
abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly
during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval
villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but
often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as
enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread
epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment
these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain
well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and
long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important
information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming
economy between the regions and through time.

The upland deserted settlement at Ironhouse survives well and is a good
example of a settlement which developed around a bastle. The bastle also
survives well and evidence of the relationship between it and the surrounding
settlement will be preserved. The monument will hence contribute to an
understanding of medieval settlement in the border areas.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Charlton, D B, Day, J C, An Archaeological Survey of the MOD Training Area, Otterburn, (1977)
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990)
Mr Richardson, the tenant,
No. 4063,

Source: Historic England

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