Sinderhope Shield, Allendale

Has been described as a Possible Bastle

There are major building remains

NameSinderhope Shield, Allendale
Alternative NamesLow Sinderhope
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishAllendale

The range of buildings west of Sinderhope Farmhouse includes a bastle that was extended in C17 and C18. The original bastle was very substantial with walls up to 1.4m thick. Some original features survive, including a byre doorway and a slit vent, but virtually everything else is later. The extension to the bastle is built in the same tradition but has thinner walls. It may be mid C17 or even later and is a puzzling building to date. (Keys to the Past)

The hamlet of Sinderhope is situated on the east side of the valley of the East Allen, 4 km to the south of Allendale Town. The farm of Sinderhope Shield (Low Sinderhope on some older maps) stands at a little over 330m O.D., on the spur of land between the main valley and its tributary the Sinderhope Burn (NY 849520).

The principal buildings of the farm form a linear range facing southeast (hereafter referred to as south) and include work of a number of different periods. At the west end are a bastle, with built on to its east end a bastle-derivative house; beyond this are the present farmhouse of later eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century date, and nineteenth-century farm buildings.

The bastle is almost square, measuring c. 6.7 by 7.0m externally, with end walls 1.4m and side walls a little over 1.0 m in thickness; the fabric is of large roughly-coursed rubble, with elongate but only very roughly shaped quoins. The byre doorway in the centre of the east wall (now opening into the basement of the added house) has a slightly segmental head, possibly modified from its original (flattened triangular?) form. An original slit vent survives in the centre of the west wall, but other features at this level, and virtually everything above, except for another blocked slit on the west, are of post-bastle date

The first-floor doorway on the south was rebuilt following a collapse of the wall face a few years ago; the window beside it has a lintel of pink sandstone of the same type as those in the added house. Internally the second floor has a fireplace with a wave-moulded surround that may be eighteenth century; the present roof only dates from alterations in the 1950s or 1960s; previously this part of the building stood rather higher than the adjacent block.

The added bastle-derivative house is c. 10 m long and 6.5 m wide externally, and is built of much more thinly-coursed rubble than the bastle; its walls are 0.75-0.8 m thick at basement level, and 0.6 m above. The most striking feature at basement level is a pair of opposed doorways set near the west end, each with a monolithic round-arched head and a narrow chamfer of head and jambs. The extrados as well as the intrados of the door heads is cut to a semicircle, which, together with the coarse gritstone used, has prompted die suggestion that they may be reused millstones. The basement has slit vents and small lockers in the side wails, and corbels at the east end carrying the hearthstone of the fireplace above. Part of the original first floor survives, with roughly-squared transverse beams carrying sandstone slabs.

The first-floor doorway has a low rectangular overlight, both with neatly-chamfered surrounds; east of the doorway are two plain window openings (now lacking their joinery) with splayed lintels; unlike the doorway they have no other cut dressings, although there is nothing in their relationship with the surrounding masonry to suggest that they are insertions. On the north there is a single two-light window now lacking its mullion, with a projecting slab beneath that might be the edge of a slopstone or sink. At the east end is a fireplace of a typical Allendale type, with a basket-arched lintel set forward on rounded corbels, and a wave-moulding to both the soffit and external edge. The ceiling beams are of much lighter scantling than those below, and probably always carried floorboards. The staircase to the second floor (now partly collapsed) is set against the west wall.

Recent rebuilding and repair have destroyed evidence of second-floor windows, except for blocked openings at the west end of each side wall. The present roof is modern, but the sawn-off ends of two upper-cruck blades remain projecting from the north wall; the ends of the tie-beams into which they are tenoned are exposed in the external wall-face; a puzzling feature but one which does occur elsewhere.

The date of the bastle-derivative house remains something of a puzzle; it would be dificult to place the basement doorways much after c. 1650, but the proportions of the first-floor windows are more typical of the early eighteenth century. It is uncertain how much the two parts of the building functioned as an integrated dwelling; there is admittedly a single blocked doorway between them at first floor level, but the provision of separate first-floor doorways implies a division into two separate units.

Access to both buildings at first-floor level is via a quadrant-shaped stone platform on the south, now rather overgrown and ruinous. (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 ReferenceNY848520
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  • Ryder, Peter, 2004, 'Towers and bastles in Northumberland National Park' in Frodsham, P., Archaeology in the Northumberland National Park (CBA Research report 136) p. 262-271
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 428-9
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 120 (slight)
  • Ryder, Peter, 1996, Bastle Houses in the Northern Pennines (Alston: The North Pennines Heritage Trust) p. 12, 13


  • 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 esp 367-9 < >


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. 1 p. 19-21
  • Ryder, P.F., 1984, Bastles in Allendale. Unpublished