Lower Stobbylee, West Ealingham

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameLower Stobbylee, West Ealingham
Alternative NamesLow Stobbylee; Stobby Lea
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishBellingham

Shield Field at NY 83438047 is a recent farmhouse, but the remains of a bastle, measuring 10.5m x 6.8m, with walls 1.2m thick and 4m maximum height, are incorporated in a ruined farmstead, known as Low Stabbylee, at NY 83838071 (F1 DS 25-SEP-1970).

Low Stobbylee is a ruined farm situated about 600m west of the farm of West Ealingham and lies adjacent to a little stream below the crest of a south facing escarpment. The remains of the farm consist of a bastle with a later farm building 10m to the west; a series of walled enclosures around the ruins are sheep pens and a sheep dip.

The bastle measures 10.5m by 7m externally, over walls c.1.3m thick, of roughly coursed large rubble. The byre doorway has been set centrally in the west end and is now blocked. It has been square headed with a chamfered surround, but two thirds of the lintel and most of the south jamb have fallen; there is a rough relieving arch over, above which a rectangular block may mark the position of a quenching hole. An internal timber lintel (now exposed on both sides by collapse) has a cut for a harr against the south jamb; there is a rebate for a single door, with a draw bar tunnel (blocked) in the north jamb. There appears to have been a fireplace in the internal face of the blocking, which must have been served by an inserted firehood set against the wall face; this must post-date a pair of wall cupboards, one above the other, directly above the door. A socket to the south of, and a little below, the lower cupboard, may relate to this hood.

The north side of the gable end has fallen, but the southern half appears to survive up to a roof line set at about 45 degrees, dropping to an eaves only c.2m above ground level. This would seem too low for a two storey bastle and must relate to a later remodelling of the building

The south wall has an inserted doorway at its east end and a second doorway, now blocked (internally there is evidence that it was first reduced to a narrower opening before being completely sealed) a little further west.

The east end has a blocked slit vent at basement level, set centrally, with a wall cupboard directly above its internal lintel; there is another blocked slit at first floor level.

The north wall appears to have been rebuilt above its lower courses; the external face of the rebuilt upper section is set back about 0.3m from the original line.

The eastern outbuilding has walls of smaller coursed stone only 0.55m thick; there has been a doorway set centrally in the east end, and another at the west end of the south wall. South of the eastern doorway is a small slit vent. All that survives of the detached building to the west are the ragged ruins of its gable ends; these are of similar fabric to the eastern outbuilding and 0.6m thick. The east wall has a blocked opening with a timber lintel at first floor (or loft) level, and the west wall two small slit vents lower down. At the south east corner the wall appears to be raised on thicker foundations hinting that there was an earlier building on the same site.

The bastle at Low Stobbylee seems to have been of fairly conventional type, perhaps with a quenching hole over the byre doorway (compare the centrally sited 'cupboard' at first floor level above); it would seem to have been remodelled and perhaps reduced in height in the 18th century, before being abandoned in the 19th century.

The ruins of Low Stobbylee are a picturesque group with considerable landscape value. The western end of the bastle in particular is in perilous condition, and seems on the verge of collapse (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY838807
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 354
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 120 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. lxviii
  • Ramm, H.G., McDowall, R.W. and Mercer, E., 1970, Shielings and Bastles (London: HMSO) p. 84 No. 31


  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. 1 p. 40-1
  • McDowell, R.W., 1965, Peels and Bastles of Northumberland Typescript RCHME