Butterknowes Farmhouse Bastle

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are major building remains

NameButterknowes Farmhouse Bastle
Alternative NamesButterknowe; Butterknowles
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishBrinkburn

A tower is known to have been at Butterknowes. In a description of Rothbury Forest a century ago, (c.1803) the so-called Forest was stated to be dotted over with 'Bastile buildings'. Not one of these strong houses remains at the present day (Dixon 1903).

NZ 09139918. Butterknowes consists of a farmhouse with outbuildings, and is situated upon a small rise of ground surrounded by low-lying pastureland.

The site commands the valley of the River Coquet to the north and east. On the north side of the farmstead is a tract of marshy ground and a pond.

The modern farmhouse incorporates remains of a preceding structure which was of great strength, 10.1m of the north outside wall, and the whole of an interior, dividing wall running north-south, 6.2m in length, is 1.2m thick at ground level, narrowing to 1m at first floor level. The wall is seen on the north side to be constructed of large rough-hewn stones, with well fashioned quoins. The full extent of the remains so incorporated, can be traced within the farmhouse from the numerous doorways and windows which have been inserted. No other traces of an earlier structure could be found in or around the farmstead. The occupiers could offer no information about the site (F1 ASP 16-JAN-1957).

Condition unchanged. The remains appear likely to be those of a bastle (F2 RE 04-MAR-1971).

Farmhouse includes old walls, probably a bastle. Measures 33ft x 22ft, walls 3ft 4ins and 4ft 4ins thick (Ramm et al 1970).

Butterknowes Farmhouse is quite a complex building, demonstrating work of several periods. The main two storey two bay block, 10.2m by 6.1m externally, represents the bastle. There is an 18th century extension on the west, an attached farmbuilding range to the east and a mid 19th century rear wing and outshut to the rear. The south wall of the house was rebuilt in the mid 19th century

The only places bastle fabric is visible externally are in the western half of the north wall (above the outshut roof) and at the north east angle. Here, massive quoins are visible and walling of large roughly shaped blocks.

Internally, no bastle features are exposed. Later openings show the original west end wall to be 1.05m thick and the north wall 1.2m. Recent reflooring at first floor level is reported to have exposed the top of a flight of stone steps, dropping down the internal face of the north wall near the north west corner. It is not clear how these related to the wall beneath (ie whether they were within the thickness of the wall or attached to its internal face) and whether they were an original feature of the bastle. (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

Bastle, late C16 or early C17; extended and refronted c.1800; rear wing and outshut second quarter of C19. Original parts heavy rubble; extension, porch and front wall squared stone; C19 parts squared stone with tooled-and- margined dressings. Welsh slate roof.

2 storeys, 1 + 2 bays. Right part has 4-pane sash windows, in chamfered surrounds, with slightly-projecting sills. Coped gables with stepped-and- banded end stacks. c.1800 left part, slightly set back, has renewed door in chamfered surround on left return of projecting porch with 6-pore casement and gable slit in front wall; windows, to left of porch, similar to right part. Coped left gable with stepped-and-banded end stack; 4-pore sash on left return. Rear elevation shows original bastle masonry above outshut with part-latticed window; to left is projecting wing of 2 low storeys with hip-ended roof.

Interior: North and west walls of bastle 1.20 metres thick. life east end wall, where by analogy with Brinkheugh and Thropton bastles one would expect to find both byre and upper doorways, is not exposed. (Listed Building Report)

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 ReferenceNZ091991
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 193-4
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 117 (slight)
  • 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. 84-5
  • Ramm. H.G., McDowall, R.W. and Mercer, E., 1970, Shielings and Bastles (London: HMSO) p. 84 no. 33
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 76
  • Dixon, D.D., 1903, Upper Coquetdale Northumberland: Its History, Traditions, Folk-lore and Scenery (Newcastle-upon Tyne: Robert Redpath) p. 473-4 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 1 Alnwick District p. 7