Low Limestone Brae

Has been described as a Possible Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameLow Limestone Brae
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishWest Allen

Low Limestone Brae. An elongate range of buildings running north-south along the steep valley side. The present house, 11.2m by 6m externally, is the second part from the south of the five part range. It has walls c.0.75m thick of roughly squared stone with quite large squared quoins, and a neat plinth on the downhill (west) side. The front door, on the east, has a flattened triangular head within a square frame, and a lintel inscription (carved in relief within a sunk panel) with initials and a date ending '02'; from the style of both doorway and inscription this would seem almost certainly to be '1702'. In the rear wall of the house, now within an outshut shed, are a blocked doorway without any dressings, and two blocked chamfered windows, one to each floor. Their dressings look to be of late 17th or early 18th century character. To the south of the house is a farmbuilding (currently being altered) of 19th century date. To the north is what appears, from its junction with the house, to be an addition 6.2m long, here referred to as 'phase II'. Its walls of coursed rubble are 0.85m-0.9m thick, and there are a pair of opposed basement doorways with flat pointed heads of rather earlier form than that of the house; the eastern is now almost buried. The basement of this part of the building is now divided by a longitudinal wall, and the eastern part infilled and inaccessible. The western part has a ceiling of heavy transverse beams carrying stone slabs and, at its north end, corbelling to carry a first floor hearth. A large projection at the south east corner of the basement is presumably related to the chimney stack of the present farmhouse. Unfortunately the end wall of this part has been cut away completely at first floor level. There is no clear external sign of the division between this section and the thinner walled 4.9m long phase III extension further north - possibly the original end quoins have been removed

This extension has a square headed chamfered doorway, blocked and almost buried, on the east. The phase IV end section of the range, 5.5m long, is of 19th century character.

This is a puzzling building. By looking at the junctions between the various parts, the house ought to be the oldest part, although nothing in its masonry, wall thicknesses or architectural features indicates a date earlier than the presumed '1702' of the doorhead. The part here referred to as 'phase II' has thicker walls and doorways of more archaic character, although it is possible that the western doorway at least has been reset. The most likely explanation seems to be that the house replaces a bastle (or earlier building) to which 'phase II' was added in the mid or later 17th century. Phase III may be an addition of late 17th or earlier 18th century date (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

Not scheduled

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY792499
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  • Ryder, Peter, 1996, Bastle Houses in the Northern Pennines (Alston: The North Pennines Heritage Trust) p. 17, 18


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. 2 p. 157