Old Town Bastles, Allendale

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are major building remains

NameOld Town Bastles, Allendale
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishAllendale

Range of bastle houses, late C16 or early C17, central section (the present house) rebuilt early C19. House rubble with ashlar dressings, east bastle large rubble, west bastle cyclopean rubble; slate roofs. House 2 storeys, 2 wide bays. Central projecting porch has door with 5 round-headed panels under overlight, and open pedimented gable with heavy moulded kneelers. Left bay has 16-pane sashes in moulded boxes, right bay has ground floor paired casement in lugged raised stone surround with stop chamfers, 16-pane sash in raised stone surround above. Left end stack ashlar, right end stack rendered. Bastle to left 2 storeys, 2 bays, irregular; wall largely rebuilt with various openings including 9-pane fixed window. Bastle to right 2 storeys, 2 bays, irregular, much-patched wall with small windows. Right return, within later outbuilding, shows central byre entrance of bastle with monolithic triangular head. Left return shows central byre entrance with chamfered jambs and lintel. Rear elevation of house rendered, long rear wing not of interest. Bastle to left has boarded door and 9-pane fixed window above, with to left at mid-height a heavy stone spout. Bastle to right has inserted cart entrance; wall rebuilt above first floor level. (Listed Building Report)

Old Town is a farmhouse of a late period of construction built between the remains of two defended houses.

'A' NY81405821. The remains consists of the lower courses of the west wall and part of the north wall, ht. 2.2m. They are now incorporated into an outbuilding adjoining the farm house and used as a garage.

'B' NY 81435820. A two-storied building with rubble walls raised upon foundations of unshaped boulders, the original ground floor doorway in the east end has a Tudor-shaped arch cut out of a massive lintel stone

Similar Defended Houses exist at Gatehouses, (NY 788890) and were dated 'Tudor' (F1 ASP 02-NOV-1956).

Old Town 1: 6.95m wide, side wall 1.05m thick, end wall with byre entrance 1.37m thick. Old Town 2: 6.3m wide, side wall 0.9m thick, end wall with byre entrance 1.05m thick, both with byre doors, now stand at either end of a 19th century farmhouse and their original relationship is unclear (Ryder 1984).

The farmhouse forms the central element of a three part east-west range of buildings 26.2m long, both ends being formed by bastles. The farmhouse itself appears to be an 18th century building, remodelled and heightened in the 19th century; it presumably replaces either a bastle or a pre-bastle house, but does not appear to preserve an early fabric.

The Western Bastle. Only the west end (6.9m wide) and part of the north wall of this (5.7m long) survive, up to first floor level; the upper parts of the walls and the south wall, are of 19th century date, although old quoins, only slightly less massive than those below, appear to have been reused to the full height of the western angles. The walls are of exceptionally massive roughly squared blocks; six courses make up the full height; the cyclopean nature of the masonry has led to it traditionally being identified as a Roman structure. The west wall is 1.3m thick and the north wall 1m. The only surviving feature is the byre doorway, set centrally in the west end; this has a plain square head, and massive dressings, with a narrow chamfer to both jambs and head. The doorway is now blocked, its rear arch having been converted into a fireplace.

The Eastern Bastle. This is better preserved and appears to have measured 7.9m by 6.3m externally; it seems likely that its west wall is incorporated in the east wall of the present farmhouse. The bastle walls are constructed of courses of larger roughly shaped stone alternating with small coursed rubble, a mixture of fabric types suggesting that material was being reused from an earlier building; there are large roughly shaped quoins and dressings. The side walls are 0.85m thick and the east end 1m. The byre doorway is set centrally in the east end and has a flattened triangular head. Small windows towards each end of the south wall both appear to be enlarged slit vents; internally, there is an area of disturbed masonry in the centre of the west wall, which may mark an earlier door position. At first floor level there is a blocked slit in the centre of the east gable; a ragged joint west of centre in the south wall may mark the western jamb of the upper doorway. A projecting spout towards the west end of the north wall marks the position of a sink or slopstone. A small blocked slit near the top of the east gable implies the existence of an attic or sleeping loft (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

Bastle 6.95m wide with walls 1.05 and 1.4m thick and bastle II 6.35 m wide with walls c. 1.0 m thick stand at opposite ends of what is now a nineteenth-century farmhouse, which probably replaces a third bastle. Bastle I has extraordinarily megalithic masonry, giving rise to a local tradition of Roman origin (Ramm et al. 1970, 81) (Ryder 1992)

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 ReferenceNY814582
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 423
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 356
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 291
  • Ramm, H.G., McDowall, R.W. and Mercer, E., 1970, Shielings and Bastles (London: HMSO) p. 81 no. 23
  • Tomlinson, W.W., 1902, Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland (London) p. 159


  • 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)


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. 1 p. 16-17
  • Ryder, P.F., 1986. Bastles of Allendale. Unpublished