Bastle at Low Leam Farm
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 01-Mar-2021 at 01:36:24.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
- National Park:
- National Grid Reference:
- NY 87634 86153
Reasons for Designation
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 Low Leam Farm survives in a very good state of preservation and is a good example of its type.
The bastle, a defended medieval farmhouse, is situated among farm buildings
12m to the north of the present farmhouse. The structure, composed of blocks
of roughly squared stone, and surviving in original form to eaves level, is
roughly rectangular in plan, measuring 9.4m by 5.6m within stone walls 1.2m
thick. The basement, or byre, was entered through a doorway in the west gable;
this is square headed and displays a relieving arch over the lintel and two
draw bar tunnels. The doorways in the east and north walls are later
additions. There is an original slit window in the south wall of the byre
which has been blocked at a later date. The top stone course of the byre
projects outwards in order to carry the heavy timbers which supported the
upper storey. The upper storey was used as the main living area of the farm
and access was gained through a door placed in the south wall, now blocked and
only visible from a later farm building built against the south wall; also
visible is a blocked slit window and an inscribed stone carrying the initials
`M C' and a date thought to read `1602'. The walls of the bastle were raised
in the 19th century and it has a modern roof. The monument is also a Grade II
MAP EXTRACT 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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 84
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990), 13
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing