Shilla Hill bastle 350m west of Comb
- 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 Grid Reference:
- NY 76362 90390
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.
Despite the fact that only the lower courses survive, the bastle 350m west of Comb retains significant archaeological deposits. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of other bastles in the vicinity. Taken together they add to our knowledge and understanding of post medieval settlement at this time.
The monument includes the remains of a bastle, a form of defended farmhouse
situated on the summit of Shilla Hill commanding the valley of the Tarset
Burn. The bastle is rectangular in shape and measures 14.5m by 7m externally
with walls of large unhewn stone 1.4m thick. They are best preserved on the
northern and eastern sides where they stand to a height of 2m. Shaped boulders
have been used to form quoin stones at the corners of the building. There is a
main entrance in the eastern wall giving access into the ground floor
basement; it has an arched roof over a lintel and is furnished with a draw bar
tunnel. It is thought that the west end of the bastle, which is encumbered by
fallen debris, contains the remains of a stair which would have given access
to the upper storey living area of the bastle. It is thought that the original
name of the bastle was Starr Head.
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
Hope-Dodds, M, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland: Volume XV, (1940), 271
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990), 41
Long, B, List Of Ancient Monuments- The Kielder Forests, (1988)
NY 79 SE 02,
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