Blackcleugh Bastle, Allendale

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameBlackcleugh Bastle, Allendale
Alternative NamesBlack Cleugh
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishAllendale

Solitary bastle, 10.4 x 6.5m externally, side walls 1m thick. Byre entrance in gable end; first floor beamed ceiling (Ryder 1990).

Blackcleugh is a ruined bastle lying on a ridge adjacent to a small tributary of the Swinhope Burn. There is a roofed 19th century barn nearby but the former farmhouse is in ruins. The old house measures 10.4m by 6.6m externally, with walls of coursed rubble and roughly shaped quoins. The north end is c.1.15m thick, the other walls around 0.85m-0.95m. The off centre doorway and two flanking windows (probably originally of two-lights) in the east wall are probably dated by the '16 WR 95' inscription on the door lintel, as may be the two small chamfered windows at first floor level. However, a blocked basement slit closer to the north end of the wall looks older; there is also a blocked slit in the west wall. The north end has largely fallen, but the clearance of a little debris revealed part of the internal jamb of a doorway set centrally, in the conventional position for a bastle byre door. At first floor level a suggestion of a straight joint above the northern jamb of the present doorway (now bricked up), with an adjacent area of refacing, suggests the remains of a former upper doorway.

Despite the walling material not being all that typical, on balance this is probably a genuine bastle, remodelled in 1695 (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

Blackcleugh Bastle comprised a rectangular roofless ruin measuring 10.5m by 6.7m with walls of coursed undressed sandstone and roughly shaped quoins. The building was situated on the south side of a farm track, close to a later 19th century barn and shed. Until recently a pent-roofed shed was built against the south side of the building, but this has since been demolished.

Walls of the bastle measured between 1.2m and 1.3m deep, apart from the south wall, which was slightly less thick at only 1m. These were set on a rough plinth of unshaped boulders

The quoin stones were alternately set at angles and measured up to 0.4m thick and 1m long. On the north side of the building a number of foundations stones marked a rectangular area measuring 4.5m long and between 1.7m and 0.7m wide. This may mark location of a former external stair.

The south wall of the building was the best-preserved being up to 3.2m high. A ground-floor entrance, two ground-floor windows and two first floor windows were visible in this wall. These had been blocked (presumably when the former shed was constructed), the entrance having been used as a storage space. The outer wall surface had also been plastered, masking much of the stonework. A number of timber slots were identified in the wall, which had been used to tie the former shed to the wall of the building. The eastern end of the south wall had suffered damage, due to the collapse of the east wall.

The structural evidence suggests that the original building was a simple two-storey bastle house, comprising a byre with living quarters above. The byre was originally ventilated by slit windows, and entered by a doorway on the east side of the building. A first-floor doorway would have provided access to the living quarters. This may have been located on the north side of the building where a possible external stair has been identified. Bastles were designed to be defensive, and a retractable ladder would have originally been used to reach the upper floor. The external stair may therefore be seen as a later addition. One original window has been identified at first floor level in the south wall. Other windows would have existed but these have been lost. (Railton, 2007)

Not scheduled

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY833477
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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., 1992, 'Bastles and bastle-like buildings in Allendale' Archaeological Journal Vol. 149 p. 351-79 (listed in appendix)


  • < >Railton, M., 2007, Archaeological Building Recording at Blackcleugh Bastle, Swinhope, Allendale, Northumberland (CP413. NPA Ltd: Nenthead) online copy < >
  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. 1 p. 2
  • Ryder, P.F., 1990, Northumberland Bastles Survey Unpublished p. 2