Deserted medieval village including bastle at Ironhouse, 750m west of High Shaw


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


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This copy shows the entry on 07-Jul-2020 at 13:29:47.


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

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NY 93361 98300

Reasons for Designation

The village, comprising a small group of houses, gardens, yards, streets, paddocks, often with a green, a manor and a church, and with a community devoted primarily to agriculture, was a significant component of the rural landscape in most areas of medieval England, much as it is today. Villages provided some services to the local community and acted as the main focal point of ecclesiastical, and often of manorial, administration within each parish. Although the sites of many of these villages have been occupied continuously down to the present day, many others declined in size or were abandoned throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries. As a result over 2000 deserted medieval villages are recorded nationally. The reasons for desertion were varied but often reflected declining economic viability, changes in land use such as enclosure or emparkment, or population fluctuations as a result of widespread epidemics such as the Black Death. As a consequence of their abandonment these villages are frequently undisturbed by later occupation and contain well-preserved archaeological deposits. Because they are a common and long-lived monument type in most parts of England, they provide important information on the diversity of medieval settlement patterns and farming economy between the regions and through time.

The upland deserted settlement at Ironhouse survives well and is a good example of a settlement which developed around a bastle. The bastle also survives well and evidence of the relationship between it and the surrounding settlement will be preserved. The monument will hence contribute to an understanding of medieval settlement in the border areas.


The monument includes a deserted medieval settlement situated on the south side of the narrow valley of Watty's Sike. The settlement consists of a line of at least nine steadings (farmhouses), one of which, towards the west end of the settlement, is occupied by the ruined remains of a defended farmhouse or bastle. The bastle, constructed of roughly squared stone and surviving in parts to first floor level, is rectangular in plan, measuring 10.5m by 4m within stone walls 1.4m thick. The basement or byre is entered through a doorway at the centre of the east gable and was lit by slit windows in the south and east walls. Unlike other bastles in the vicinity, that at Ironhouse does not have a vaulted basement and the first floor living area was carried on a wooden floor; the beam holes which supported the floor are visible in the north wall. At first floor level there are the remains of wall cupboards in both gables and traces of a hearth at the east end. To the east and west of the bastle there are the remains of the stone foundations of at least seven other buildings; these turf-covered buildings measure 9m by 6m and their stone walls stand in places up to 1m high. A circular well is located immediately outside the bastle on the south-west side. Also to the south-west of the settlement there are the well-preserved remains of walled enclosures; the paddocks, garths and fields in which animals were kept. Local legend gives the name Ironhouse to the settlement whose main industry was iron working. Although the extant remains are sixteenth century in date, the earliest known documentary reference to the settlement is of 1398.

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:
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Books and journals
Charlton, D B, Day, J C, An Archaeological Survey of the MOD Training Area, Otterburn, (1977)
Ryder, P F, Bastles and Towers in Northumberland National Park, (1990)
Mr Richardson, the tenant,
No. 4063,


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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