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.
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.