Low Cleughs Bastle, 580m NNE of Low Leam Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NY 87771 86735

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.

Low Cleughs bastle survives well without any post-bastle modifications. The existence of a possible attic storey, its three first floor windows and its larger than usual size suggest that this is a `superior' type of bastle occupied by a resident of higher status than usual.


The monument includes the remains of a bastle, or defended medieval farmhouse, situated on a south-east slope of moorland on the edge of a small tributary of the River Rede. The structure, composed of roughly squared stone and surviving in original form to eaves level, is rectangular in shape, measuring 13.3m by 7.5m externally with walls 1.2m-1.4m thick. The upper gables have fallen and the bastle is roofless. Both the basement, or byre, and the first floor living area were entered through doorways in the long south side, placed one above the other; this is unusual in bastle construction where the normal entry to the byre is through a doorway placed in one of the gable ends. Both doorways are square headed and display two drawbar tunnels and sockets for door posts. There are beam sockets around the upper walls of the basement in which timbers supporting the upper floor were held. The upper storey has three rectangular windows with chamfered surrounds in the south wall, two to the left and one, partly fallen, to the right of the doorway in the south wall. The windows show that they were at one time blocked by iron bars and at least one was hung with shutters. It is not certain how the inhabitants of the bastle gained access to the upper storey doorway as there are no remains of an external staircase and given the unusual situation of the doorway, the existence of one would have blocked entry to the byre entrance. It is thought that traces of beam slots in the upper walls of the first floor suggest that there may have been an attic floor above. Surrounding the bastle there are the slight remains of attached enclosures and smaller buildings visible as low stony walls and ditches; these features are represented on the earliest Ordnance Survey map in 1860 as a second building of similar proportions to the bastle and small enclosures and paddocks. The bastle is Listed Grade II. The fenced enclosure which lies within the protected area is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.

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
Ryder, P F, Low Cleughs Bastle, (1991)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1st Edition 25" Source Date: 1860 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: 1860


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

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