Bickerton Bastles

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameBickerton Bastles
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishHepple

In 1663, four members of the Snawdon family were the owners of Bickerton (NT 995002) each family residing in their bastle house. The north wall of the present farmhouse is formed of part of one of these fortified dwellings, and several green mounts in the field adjoining denote the sites of others (Dixon 1903).

NT 99590024. Bickerton comprises a farmhouse with a group of farmbuildings to the south-west. The farmhouse is of a late period of construction, but has incorporated within it serving as a party wall, a wall 0.9m in thickness which rises through the two storeys of the house. Its presence is indicated by doorways cut through on each floor. Above the lower doorway on the east side is a long narrow corbel projecting. No other remains of a preceding structure could be located in or around the present house. No mounds were found which could be associated with the sites of further bastles (F1 ASP 07-FEB-1957).

The main block of the farmhouse measures c.14.4m by 7.1m externally. The three bay front elevation is probably of late 19th or early 20th century date; there is said to have been a serious fire around 1900, after which the 0.7m thick south wall may have been rebuilt. The east end of the house is of coursed roughly squared stone, with a chamfered plinth, and may be of early 18th century date; it is only 0.65m thick. The exposed section of the north wall east of a mid 20th century wing looks of similar fabric, but lacks the plinth. The adjacent section of the same wall inside the wing is 1,2m thick (although this includes stoothing). The original west end wall, also now internal, seems to be c.0.9m thick. A ground floor doorway here is now sealed off on the east side, and there is no sign of the corbel described in 1957

Adjoining this end of the house is a lower block, probably of 18th century date, that now partly serves as a garage; it has the remains of an old bread oven in its west end.

The present owner mentions that a slabbed over drain was found in 1983/4 beneath the front lawn, a few metres from the house; a section was excavated, and an archaeologist from Newcastle University attended. Finds were said to date from the 14th to the 17th century.

ASP 1957 mentions none of the 'green mounts' could be traces. There is however, a clear north-south mound (apparently returning westward at its north end) a short distance north east of the house, just beyond a lane that runs north from the road. This would appear to cover the remains of a substantial stone wall, and might be part of a bastle, or perhaps an enclosure wall. A little to the west of the house, opposite a group of planned 19th century farmbuildings, is a broad east-west mound running parallel to, and a few metres from, the road. This might conceivably cover the remains of a range of buildings.

Bickerton Farmhouse probably incorporates the remains of a bastle, although this interpretation is made purely on the basis of wall thicknesses; no bastle-type features or fabric are currently visible. There are clearly features of archaeological interest in the vicinity; the owners talk of sudden subsidence into pit-like features in a field to the south west (Ryder 1994-5).

Mid 19th century farmhouse. Two-storey, three-bay house whose porch and ground floor windows have been much altered and enlarged in the 20th century. Renewed 12-pane sashes on the first floor. Made particularly attractive by the dressed stone garden walls with original cast-iron railings and gate (Grundy 1987). (Northumberland HER)

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNT995002
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 193
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 61
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 357
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 68
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 68
  • Dixon, D.D., 1903, Upper Coquetdale Northumberland: Its History, Traditions, Folk-lore and Scenery (Newcastle-upon Tyne: Robert Redpath) p. 314 online copy


  • 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 2 Berwick District p.
  • Grundy, J., 1987, The Historic Buildings of the Northumberland National Park HEP2