Bastle immediately east of Mortley


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021285

Date first listed: 21-Oct-2003


Ordnance survey map of Bastle immediately east of Mortley
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Wark

National Grid Reference: NY 82419 77380


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 of the later Middle Ages, which in these border areas lasted until (indeed after) the union of the English and Scottish Crowns in 1603. 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 it survives as a ruined structure, the bastle at Mortley retains much original fabric and important original features including a fine doorway and evidence for the stone vaulted basement. Despite some disturbance to the upper levels of the interior, significant archaeological deposits, including earlier floor and occupation levels are thought to survive. These will provide important information about the lives of the people who occupied the bastle and indicate its main phases of occupation. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of further bastles in the vicinity which, taken together, will add to our knowledge and understanding of settlement and society 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 of late 16th or early 17th century date, situated on an elevated site on the north side of the valley of Warks Burn.

The bastle, rectangular in shape, measures 10.4m east to west by 7m north to south externally, with walls of large roughly squared and roughly coursed blocks between 1.3m to 1.4m thick. Now roofless, it stands generally to between 2m to 3m high, although the west gable of the bastle and part of its south wall survive as buried foundations. There is an original byre doorway in the centre of the east gable giving access to the ground floor basement. The square-headed doorway is unchamfered with a relieving arch above. Its door jambs contain very large blocks and the lintel is formed by a large, flat slab, which projects, into the wall of the bastle for about a third of its thickness. The doorway contains a rebate for a single door and the remains of two drawbar tunnels are visible in the south jamb. Within the basement of the bastle, the springing stones, which carried the stone vault, are visible on the north wall of the bastle at a height of approximately 1.75m.

The fence posts and stone wall at the north east corner of the bastle, the raised patio at the north west corner of the bastle and the adjacent building to the west 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: 32801

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 93
Ryder, P F, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland: A Survey, (1995), 154

End of official listing