Shilla Hill bastle 350m west of Comb


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008991

Date first listed: 19-Mar-1965

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Oct-1994


Ordnance survey map of Shilla Hill bastle 350m west of Comb
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Tarset

National Grid Reference: NY 76362 90390


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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: 25079

Legacy System: RSM


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,

End of official listing