Grandys Knowe Bastle

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are uncertain remains

NameGrandys Knowe Bastle
Alternative NamesThe Knowe
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishBardon Mill

Grandy's Knowe Farmhouse and adjacent ruined bastle to West

Farmhouse, early C18 built onto east end of earlier bastle house; windows renewed c.1860. Rubble, C20 asbestos roof, rubble right end stack, left gable and stack partly fallen. 2 storeys,3 bays. Central renewed door with chamfered dressed stone surround flanked by 6-pane sashes, 1st floor 2 small 6-pane sashes and small rectangular light over door, all windows with timber lintels. Farm buildings to right not of interest. Bastle to left shows setbacks for 1st and attic floors on east wall. Rear elevation with outshut which overlaps bastle. Interior, altered. 1st floor fireplace with chamfered surround, 2 upper cruck roof trusses with slender tapering blades, those of eastern truss scarfed. Collars overlap blades to carry purlins, no ridge beam.

Empty and derelict at time of survey. (Listed Building Report 1985)

The bastle at Grandy's Knowe is reasonably well preserved despite significant loss of fabric, and retains significant archaeological deposits. Taken together with other important medieval and post medieval buildings in the vicinity, it will add to our knowledge of medieval and post-medieval settlement and activity in the area.

The monument includes the remains of a bastle, a form of defended farmhouse, situated among a group of farm buildings on the edge of a north facing escarpment. The bastle, which is roofless, is rectangular in shape and measures 9.15m by 6.7m externally with walls of large roughly squared blocks up to 1.3m thick. The walls of the bastle stand to an average height of 1.5m. The eastern wall and the eastern end of the north wall stand considerably higher as they have been incorporated into the adjacent mid-18th century farmhouse. There is an original doorway, now blocked, through the centre of the west gable giving access into the ground floor basement

There are opposing gaps through the north and south walls which are thought to be additional doorways inserted into the bastle at a later date. The bastle is Listed Grade II along with the adjacent farmhouse. (Scheduling Report 1999)

Rectangular building, 9.15m x 6.7m, with walls of large roughly squared blocks 1m-1.3m thick. Walls generally stand to c.1.5m high, except for east end and east part of north wall, which are incorporated into the adjacent house and show an internal set back at first floor level. A patch of smaller masonry in the centre of the west end presumably marks a door position. The adjacent early 18th century house has some features of interest including an upper-cruck roof (Ryder, P F 16-JUL-90 Field investigation).

Former farm on south side of Military Road (B6318) 1.5km south west of Housesteads. Buildings perched on brow of north facing escarpment and form a highly picturesque group (Ryder 1990).

There are few historical references to Grandy's Knowe but is recorded by Hodgson as a seat of the Armstrongs. It had ceased life as a working farm by the mid 20th century, at which time it was re-thatched. By the early 1980s the roof had been replaced by asbestos sheets, but this has since fallen in except over the eastern bay and all the first floor timbers have been removed. The buildings are arranged around a rectangular yard, the farmhouse on the north west side with the attached ruins of a bastle on the west side. The farmhouse measures 10.1m by c.5.65m with walls 0.65m thick of roughly-coursed and roughly-shaped stone. The bastle measures 9m by 6.7m with walls c.1.2m thick. It is in a ruinous condition, but considerable sections of the walls of the basement survive along with the est end which stands high enough to show it had a second or attic floor. The east part of the north wall and the east end have been incorporated into the house. Parts of the south and west end wall stand to c.2m externally. The walls are of large roughly shaped blocks of coarse sandstone with packing pieces between. The central section of the north wall appears to have been rebuilt in slightly smaller stone, possibly indicating an original door position, as does part of the south wall. There are breaks roughly in the centre of the north and south walls which may indicate the positions of secondary doorways. The eastern outbuilding measures 6.8m by c.5.5m with walls 0.6m thick.

The west range is made up of three single storeyed buildings and comprises a central barn with a north and south byre. The yard measures c.28m by 14m and has drystone walls on the south and east. The entrance is in the north west corner. At the south east corner is a small structure 3.5m square, probably a pigsty (Ryder 1998 unpublished).

The farmhouse which was used in the mid 20th century as a bunk house for a climbing club has fallen into ruin. The ruins of the bastle are adjoined by a house dating to c.1720, with a steep heather-thatched roof carried by an upper cruck roof structure that still largely survives. At around the same time a barn was built on the west side of the rectangular farmyard and a little later an outbuilding to the east of the house. The farmhouse was altered in the late 18th century, a rear outshut being added. During the 19th century byres were built onto each end of the barn and a pigsty at the south-east corner of the yard (Ryder 1998).

The house is 17th or 18th century, three bays and two low storeys. It has a central boarded door and two 19th century six-pane sashes on the ground floor, three tiny older sashes above. The door has an alternating block surround with an enormous lintel. Very steeply-pitched gabled (asbestos) roof. The left gable has collapsed. Inside is a two-bay upper cruck roof with collar beams projecting to carry the purlins; crossed at the apex. Attached to the left are the ruins of a bastle house, c.30ft by 20ft, with walls c.40 inches thick. Attached to the right, a stable, probably contemporary with the house but with a later, shallower-pitched roof. It too has old roof timbers with tie beams, collar beams and trenched purlins. Left of the house and detached at right angles, a range of two byres and a stable all with boarded doors. Two of them have old timbers similar to the stable by the house. Farmbuildings Grundy Grade III. An important group (Grundy 1987)

Eight timber samples were analysed in 2009 from a small number of timbers from the farmhouse. This resulted in a single site chronology, comprising six samples, of overall length of 130 years. They spanned the years AD 1585 to 1714. It is highly probable that two phases of felling are represented. Timbers of the earlier phase were probably all cut in AD 1714. Timbers from the later phase are estimated to have been felled between AD 1722 and 1747. The earlier timbers may represent the primary phase of the farmhouse and the later phase a repair to a roof truss. Alternatively, the primary phase might be represented by the material felled in AD 1722 to 1747 and the earlier timbers incorporated into the new build (Arnold and Howard 2009).

Building recording and evaluation took place ahead of a proposal to redevelop the ruined bastle and farm buildings at Grandy's Knowe in 2008. A trial trench excavated inside the bastle revealed deposits of waste material, largely domestic refuse of 19th and 20th century date, with some later dumping of farm waste materials. There was some evidence for a flagged floor which appeared to have been removed following the abandonment of the building as a residence. Exposure of the walls indicates that the structure has undergone successive phases of substantial rebuilding, such that little of the original structure survives, although the lower quoins may well be original, along with some of the attached lower courses of wall masonry. Rubble cleared from the interior and partial demolition of the east gable end wall included worked stones which were set aside for potential re-use (Carlton 2008). (Northumberland HER)

Gatehouse Comments

Since 2007, when a planning application was submitted for the adjacent farmhouse, which included some consolidation of the ruins of the bastle and currently (Jan 2016) the site has been developed and a two storey structure now sits on the bastle. This seems to be a steel-frammed and glass-walled building on top of the consolidated, but still preserved, ruinous bastle walls. A rather dramatic structure, perhaps not to everyone's taste (The roofline being higher than the adjacent farmhouse seems incongruous), although had it not been constructed it is likely the ruins of the bastle would have deteriorated.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY781673
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  • Ryder, Peter, 2004, 'Towers and bastles in Northumberland National Park' in Frodsham, P., Archaeology in the Northumberland National Park (CBA Research report 136) p. 262-271
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 375
  • Hodgson, J., 1840, History of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Part 2 Vol. 3 p. 334 online copy


  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)
  • Ryder, P.F., 1998, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 8 p. 34-5


  • < >Howard, R.E. and Arnold, A.J., 2009, Grandy's Knowe, Bardon Mill, Northumberland: Tree-Ring Analysis of Timbers (English Heritage Research Department Reports series 36-2009) < > online copy
  • Carlton, R.J,. 2008, Grandy's Knowe, Northumberland: archaeological evaluation and historic building record (The Archaeological Practice for Conrad Dickinson)
  • Northumberland National Park Authority Development Control Committee 11 July 2007 online copy
  • Ryder, P F, 1998, Grandy's Knowe, Bardon Mill, Northumberland. An historical and archaeological assessment
  • Ryder, P.F., 1990, Bastles and Towers in the Northumberland National Park (Report for Northumberland National Park Authority) p. 11
  • Grundy, J., 1987, The Historic Buildings of the Northumberland National Park BAR4