Crew Castle bastle


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Crew Castle bastle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Carlisle (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 56849 77870

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 being presently used as a sheep pen and being flanked by other sheep pens and a lean-to shed on two sides, Crew Castle bastle survives in fair condition and retains a number of original architectural features. It is one of a number of surviving bastles in the parishes of Bewcastle and Askerton close to the Scottish border and is a good example of this class of monument.


The monument includes Crew Castle, a roofless bastle now standing to ground floor height only, located on the hillside c.120m south of Crew Farm. It is constructed of calciferous sandstone rubble and measures approximately 7.6m by 5m internally with walls 1.6m thick and up to a maximum of 2.6m high. There is a doorway in the south wall and a blocked doorway opposite in the north wall. Two apertures, one in the south wall and the other in the west wall, each consist of a small circular hole set in the thickness of the wall which splays outwards towards both the external and internal sides of the wall; these have been interpreted as either ventilation holes or gun loops for defensive purposes. Other architectural features include a projecting plinth around the bastle's perimeter and large flush quoins at the corner. Rubble from the upper storey has fallen outwards and lies adjacent to the north east and north west sides and the western corner of the bastle, and in places forms heaps of debris as high as the adjacent bastle wall. Tradition states that Crew Castle bastle was the birthplace of Hobbie Noble, a moss-trooper or border reiver. Documentary sources indicate that Will Noble `of the Crew was murdered by Old Whithaugh' in 1583. The monument is a Listed Building Grade II. Adjacent sheep pens and a lean-to shed are excluded from the scheduling, although 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
Curwen, J F, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Extra Ser.' in Castles and Towers of Cumb, West and Lancs N of the Sands, , Vol. XIII, (1913), 364
Graham, T H B, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Extinct Cumberland Castles (Part II), , Vol. X, (1910), 102-6
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,


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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