Bastle at Upper Denton


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


Ordnance survey map of Bastle at Upper Denton
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Carlisle (District Authority)
Upper Denton
National Grid Reference:
NY 61586 65534

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 monument's somewhat ruinous appearance, the bastle at Upper Denton survives reasonably well and retains a number of original architectural features. It is one of a number of fortified parsonages in the area but is a rare example in Cumbria of a bastle being utilised for such purposes.


The monument includes a roofless bastle standing two storeys high which is located on level ground at the northern end of Upper Denton village. It is constructed of squared coursed rubble with red sandstone dressings. The walls are approximately 1.2m thick in the lower storey and the building measures c.6m by 4.8m internally. Access to the ground floor of the bastle is through a doorway in the north wall which retains its original chamfered red sandstone jambs and lintel, and a drawbar tunnel for securing the door. Above is a void where the original first floor doorway was situated; it is now a wide aperture with only two jamb stones of the doorway remaining. In the east end wall there is a small vent to the ground floor and above it, on the upper storey, there is a fireplace recess. On either side of the fireplace are traces of recesses which were probably used as cupboards, and in the gable is a small window indicating that the roof space had been used as an attic. The south wall was without openings on its ground floor. The upper floor walling, however, has been rebuilt but part of this has fallen. The west end wall has a small vent in the ground floor and another to the attic in the gable. There are traces of a fireplace on the first floor. The bastle functioned as the vicarage and is one of a number of fortified parsonages in the area. It was latterly utilised as a barn. All field boundaries and gateposts are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features 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
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 78-9
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Bastles, (1987)
SMR No. 320, Cumbria SMR, Bastle at Upper Denton, (1987)


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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