Bastle and round cairn at Hole Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008993

Date first listed: 22-Sep-1994


Ordnance survey map of Bastle and round cairn at Hole Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 21-Nov-2018 at 17:46:15.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bellingham

National Grid Reference: NY 86704 84664


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.

Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined compartments called cists. In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch. Often occupying prominent locations, cairns are a major visual element in the modern landscape. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands and are the stone equivalent of the earthen round barrows of the lowlands. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organization amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. The bastle at Hole Farm survives very well. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of other bastles in the vicinity. Taken together they will add to our knowledge and understanding of post medieval settlement.


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, partially situated on a low knoll, overlooking the valley of the River Rede to the north, east and south. The bastle is rectangular in shape and measures 10.5m by 6.6m externally with walls of large unhewn stone 1.4m thick, the whole based on a projecting plinth. The bastle stands two storeys high; the walls are 10m to the eaves and 14m to the tops of the gables. The original square headed doorway into the ground floor basement is situated in the western gable and is visible from the adjoining farm building; the present entrance through the east wall is a later addition, but the slit window above is an original feature. The interior has a barrel vaulted ground floor with a ladder hole by which access was gained to the upper storey. The first floor was also reached by an external stone stair leading up to a platform surrounded by a parapet wall on the south wall of the bastle. The upper doorway is placed at the eastern end of the front wall; it has a chamfered stone surround and a drawbar tunnel. Two windows, one each side of the doorway, are 19th century additions but original windows are visible in the east wall and at the east end of the north wall. Inside the bastle at first floor level there are wall cupboards against each gable and a fireplace on the western side. A stone stair, in the south east corner, gives access to an attic storey. The attic has two square windows in the south wall and on the east gable there are five pigeon holes. The monument is a Grade II* Listed Building. The bastle partly stands on a round cairn in which a Bronze Age stone coffin or cist was discovered in 1972. The cist is still in its original position 2.5m north of the north wall of the bastle. The cairn is 9m in diameter and protrudes from underneath the bastle at the north east and north west sides.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 25081

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990)
DOE, Buildings of Special Hist & Arch Interest,
NY 88 SE 14,
NY 88 SE 21,

End of official listing