Glenwhelt Bastle, Greenhead

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameGlenwhelt Bastle, Greenhead
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishGreenhead

House and cottage. Dated 1757 on doorway; incorporating late C16-early C17 remains (possibly of a bastle house). Dressed sandstone front, squared rubble returns and rear; Welsh slate roof; ashlar chimneys. Glenwhelt has double- range plan with bastle remains in left end of rear range; cottage at slight angle on right return of front range. 2-storey street front on sloping site. 6 bays (each house 3 bays; cottage bays more closely spaced). Chamfered plinth at left, first-floor sill band and raised-and-chamfered quoins. Door surround (to Glenwhelt), in second bay from left, has Corinthian columns and segmental pediment containing cartouche inscribed: J A M 1757. Broken stone sundial with sun-face above doorway. Other surrounds on ground floor have raised edges, friezes with blocks of vermiculated rustication and cornices: doorway (to cottage) in second bay from right; 12-pane sash at left end; replaced casement in centre; tripartite window at right end. Horse-mounting block to left of cottage doorway. First-floor replaced casements and sashes in surrounds with raised edges. Steeply-pitched roof (2-span on Glenwhelt) has slightly-swept eaves, coped gables and shaped kneelers. Corniced end and ridge stacks. Rear range: possible bastle in left bay has 1.5-metre thick wall, large alternating quoins and 2 inserted sashes. C19 single-storey wing at right-angles on right rear.

INTERIOR: of Glenwhelt: mid C18 fittings including moulded stone fireplaces, panelled doors in architraves; 2-flight dogleg cut-string staircase with 2 turned balusters per tread and ramped handrail. Room on ground-floor left has panelled dado, overmantel with egg-and-dart moulding and modillion cornice. The possible bastle has heavy adzed ceiling beams on ground floor. (Listed Building Report)

Solitary form bastle, 8.0 x 5.5m with end wall 1.25m thick. First floor beamed ceiling

Present state - house (Ryder 1990).

Glenwhelt has a two storey, three bay front block with a central doorway dated '1757' and some good contemporary detail; Glenwhelt Cottage, to the east, is of a similar size but set at a slightly different angle. Glenwhelt has a parallel rear range that incorporates the remains of a bastle; the west end of this range is a mid 18th century rebuild (there is a tradition that this part of the building fell down); the earlier section, with metre-thick walls, measures c.8.65m by 6.15m externally; at the west end there is clearly a ragged break in the older masonry, suggesting that it may have extended further. Externally the only early feature, except for the heavy rubble fabric, is a blocked first floor doorway, partly hidden by the roof of a single storey rear wing. It has a square head and a heavy block surround; there are traces of an inscription on the lintel (the letter 'H' is visible) and also some incised lettering on the eastern jamb.

Internally the eastern ground floor room in the rear range retains old roughly shaped transverse beams that may be contemporary with the bastle. A walk-in cupboard in the south wall of this part, opening into the eastern room in the front block, may represent an early basement doorway (the external face of the east end wall of the bastle is visible from within an adjacent farm building and shows no early openings). The thinning down of the walls from the bastle to the 18th century part of the range is very clear internally. The 18th century parts of the house retain some good contemporary fittings (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 ReferenceNY660654
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  • 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. 73
  • Ryder, P.F., 1990, Bastles and Towers in the Northumberland National Park (Report for Northumberland National Park Authority) p. 5