Brinkheugh Farmhouse

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameBrinkheugh Farmhouse
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishBrinkburn

House: Rear wing is C16 or early C17 bastle; front block late C17. Front roughly-squared stone, returns coursed rubble, rear wing large rubble on boulder plinth, outbuildings rubble; cut dressings. Welsh slate roofs with end stacks rebuilt in brick on old bases. Double-span plan with attached outbuilding to east of rear wing.

South elevation 2 storeys, 5 bays, symmetrical. Rusticated quoins. Central 6-panel door in bolection-moulded surround and entablature with swan-neck pediment enclosing initials IBM (James and Margaret Bilton) and worn date 16..; 12-pane sash windows in surrounds with swept convex moulding and cornices. Coped gables on moulded kneelers; end stacks. Set back to right is single-storey 2-bay outbuilding with fire window and two 2-light windows, all blocked, and coped right gable. Left return shows gable end of bastle, above C18 outshut. At 1st-floor level 2 small chamfered windows, one blocked but with old iron bars, and 9-pane fixed window; blocked chamfered light to attic. Right return shows blocked doorway in gable of main block, and gable end of bastle showing original upper door and window opening, both under relieving arches, and both now blocked. Rear shows bastle boulder plinth and 2 late C17 inserted windows, the lower mullioned, and small blocked chamfered window on ground floor left. Original bastle openings, and window re-set on north of outbuilding, all have stop-chamfered lintels.

Interior: Large western ground floor room in front block, now subdivided, has 6-panel door to eastern room in bolection-moulded surround under broken pediment; panelled double doors to stair in similar surround with cornice; arched cupboard between panelled pilasters. Eastern room has old fireside cupboard with H hinges. Bastle part has walls 1.15 metre thick and late C17 open-well stair inserted into west part, with closed Strings, turned balusters, moulded handrail and panelled square newels with low pyramidal tops

Kitchen in east part of bastle has old close-spaced ceiling beams and cupboard with shaped fielded panels and H hinges. 2-panel doors on 1st floor, those in front block in bolection-moulded surrounds; similarly-moulded stone surrounds to bedroom fireplaces, that in west bedroom with moulded wood overmantel and old cupboard alongside. Small timber newel stair, probably late C17, to bastle attic. Blocked bastle byre door visible from within outbuilding. (Listed Building Report)

Brinkheugh, being in a more sheltered position than the old tower at Long Horsley, seems to have become the residence of the Horsley family in the reign of Elizabeth. The property now forms part of the Brinkburn estates, owner Mr C H Cadogan (Hodgson 1904).

The farmhouse at Brinkheugh seems to have been built in two stages. The northern part of the building is a two storied gabled building with very thick walls of large undressed stones, roughly coursed in places. The stones in the lower parts of the walls are very massive, while the quoin stones have been roughly dressed. In the north wall and west gable there are small square headed windows, some blocked, at first floor level. The single window visible on the ground floor appears to be a later insertion. In the east gable, at first floor level, is what appears to be a blocked doorway. This part of the building has nearly every characteristic of a defended house of the late 16th/early 17th century. The southern part of the building, slightly larger and higher than that to the north, is also a gabled building of two stories, and constructed of coursed and dressed masonry with chamfered quoins. The front wall facing south has sash windows with rounded surrounds and projecting drip stones above. The central doorway in this wall is surmounted by a broken pediment. Between the rosetted terminals of the pediment is a weathered inscription I M B (or R) with what may have been a date, but now indecipherable, underneath. The walled garden south of the house, with its ornate gateway appears to be contemporary. The architecture of this part of the house is typical late 17th century. The house is in good condition and in use as a residence (F1 EG 24-JAN-1957).

Close examination of ground photograph AO/57/11/4/ suggests that the inscription, (authority 3 refers) reads 'IBM 16__'. Inspection of deeds relating to the transfer of Brinkheugh and relative family pedigrees, showed that the property was acquired by James Bilton in 1663, the said Bilton being married to one Margaret (auth NCH vol 7, 1909 pp494-5). It is considered that the original datestone was probably intended for:- B (ILTON) I(AMES) M(ARGARET) 16 (POST 63) (F2 FC 05-MAR-1957).

Solitary standing bastle, 11.2 x 7.5m, with walls 1.2m thick. Byre entrance in gable wall. First floor beamed ceiling and first floor door located in gable end. Present state - house (Ryder 1990).

Brinkheugh is one of the most picturesque small manor houses in the county. The late 17th century front block, of two storeys and five bays, is an addition to a parallel and slightly shorter rear range which measures 11.2m by 7.3m externally. This rear range is a bastle, with walls 1.1-1.2m thick, of coursed roughly squared blocks. There is a later single storeyed outshut built on to the west end of the bastle and a later 17th century single storey building adjoining the east end.


The bastle retains quite a number of original features, mostly visible externally. Both original doorways are situated in the east end; the lower, roughly central, is partly hidden by render and whitewash within the late 17th century building, whilst the upper is set towards the south end of the wall. Both have square heads and chamfered surrounds with the distinctive feature (also seen in the surrounds of the original windows) of the chamfers being stopped diagonally at the ends of the lintels and the tops of the jambs. There is a rough relieving arch above the lintel of the upper doorway; north of the doorway is a blocked window, apparently without the usual cut dressings, but with a similar relieving arch above. The north wall of the bastle shows a typical boulder plinth. One original window survives at first floor level to the west of centre; it is small and square and now bricked up. At ground floor level there is a recent brick porch with, to the east of it, a two light mullioned window and beyond it a single light window with a similar chamfered surround. Both of these windows appear of later 17th century date; there are indistinct remains of a blocked opening, presumably earlier, between them, Above the two light window is another of similar date which has lost its mullion; between this and the smaller original window are remains of another blocked opening which, from its size, is probably of later 17th or 18th century date. The west end of the bastle, above the outshut roof, has one original bastle window at first floor level, which retains its grille of iron bars. Two other larger single light windows at the same level and a third at attic level, have chamfered surrounds of late 17th century character.


Internally, the only features which may be original to the bastle are the transverse ceiling beams at ground floor level. These are not of especially heavy scantling (they average a little over 100mm wide) but the fact that those in the western half of the block appear to have been truncated when the late 17th century stair was inserted would argue for an 'early' date. However, this is not certain.


The remainder of the house is of late 17th century date. The central doorway has a bolection moulded surround with an open scrolly pediment with the incised initials B (Bilton) above I (James?) and M with the date 16.... The windows have moulded surrounds and cornices and the front block has rusticated quoins. In the east gable end, at attic level, is a rather puzzling blocked opening which appears to have been a doorway. Internally, there are a number of good late 17th century features, including door surrounds and a fine open well stair inserted into the bastle. The single storey block, built on to the east end of the bastle, has three blocked windows in its south wall: a small single light one and two larger two light ones. On the north wall is a small window that reuses a stop chamfered lintel (probably from the bastle). The internal wall faces are rendered, concealing any detail. The function of the building remains unclear. The outshut at the west end of the bastle is probably of 18th century date, but has been altered.


The Brinkheugh bastle seems to belong to the slightly superior group characterised by having both doorways situated in one gable end. The simple but unusual treatment of the door and window surrounds may also be a mark of status. The bastle is presumably of c.1600 and shows a total contrast in character with the rather refined front block built 70 or 80 years later (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

Not scheduled

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 ReferenceNZ121984
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 199
  • Pevsner, N., 1992 (revised by Grundy, John et al), Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 203
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. lxviii, Vol. 2 p. 356
  • Hodgson, John Crawford (ed), 1904, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 7 p. 493-5 online copy


  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)
  • Dixon, P.W., 1972, 'Shielings and bastles: a reconsideration of some problems' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 50 p. 249-58


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 1 Alnwick District p. 6-7
  • Ryder, P.F., 1990, Northumberland Bastles Survey Unpublished p. 4