Ottercops Bastles

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameOttercops Bastles
Alternative NamesAttercops
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishElsdon

Bastle houses: 2 attached dwellings, now farm stores. The earlier (east) part recorded in 1604, the west part early C17 and partly rebuilt C18 or early C19. Random rubble with Welsh slate roof.

Two C19 doorways on ground floor with stable-type doors. To right an original slit window with chamfered surround. In centre later stone steps to original 1st floor doorways. Small window with chamfered surround to right, later window to left. Gabled roof with brick end and ridge stacks.

Original blocked ground-floor doorway on right return, has chamfered surround and relieving arch over lintel.

Outside stone steps on left return.

Interior: Walls 54 inches thick. (Listed Building Report)

Extended bastle, 7.3 x 7.0m, with walls 1m thick. Also bastle 8.7 x 7m with walls 1.2m thick, byre entrance in gable end and first floor door in long wall (Ryder 1990).

A pair of bastles form a detached range of farmbuildings to the north of the 20th century farmhouse. The foundations of a building on the moor some distance north of the farm may be a pre-bastle building. A family of Halls occupied 'Attercops' in the early 17th century. In 1604 Gabriel Hall paid rent on one dwelling house and two outbuildings. The earlier bastle, c.7.2m square, forms the west part of the range. Built of large rubble with roughly-shaped quoins, it has been largely rebuilt. The north wall appears to be largely intact, although its only old features are a splayed recess, probably an original loop, near the west end at basement level and remains of another splayed opening above (only one internal jamb is visible) at first floor level. East of this is a large window, perhaps an 18th century insertion, now blocked. The west wall seems to have been thinned internally; at basement level it has a straight joint near its south end which does not show externally

The south wall is largely old at basement level but rebuilt above; the only old features are a straight joint (visible both inside and out) to the west of the inserted doorway and a possible slit vent to the east. The straight joint is rather difficult to interpret; it seems too close to the west end (the line of which seems to be confirmed by the north west angle quoins) to be a door jamb. The east wall of the phase I bastle seems to have been completely rebuilt. The present wall between the two parts of the range is relatively thin and shows no features except for a doorway against the south wall at basement level and recess on the west near the centre. The phase II bastle measures c.8.7m by 7.2m externally and, in contrast to the earlier building, retains many original features. Its walls are of similar fabric, with rather better shaped quoins; at basement level they are c.1.3m thick. The basement has an original doorway set centrally in the east end, now partly blocked; this is square-headed with a chamfered surround, the massive roughly shaped blocks forming the jambs are markedly larger than the angle quoins. The lintel has a sun panel, apparently shield shaped, containing raised initials, now very worn; the upper right seems to be an 'H', below is a 'C' or 'G' and an 'H'. Above the lintel is a relieving arch and above that, 1.8m above the lintel, a small hole, 0.15m square and now blocked, cut into the upper part of a massive block. The present basement doorway at the west end of the south wall is clearly an insertion. To the east of it a large upright block may mark the remains of an earlier opening; east again is an original loop, square-headed and with a chamfered surround. An external stone stair leads up to the first floor doorway which has chamfered jambs and a later lintel of plain square section; the uppermost block of each jamb is a remnant of the original lintel, cut away to give more headroom. The drawbar tunnel and socket opposite, now infilled, are visible in the internal jambs of the doorway. To the east of the doorway is a chamfered square-headed window with rather well-squared dressings. At first sight this looks as if it may be a later insertion, but closer inspection shows that it is an original opening that has been enlarged by the removal of a central mullion (the section of which can just be traced on the lintel) and the lowering of the sill. There are traces of bar sockets, one in the centre of the former lights on the soffit of the lintel. There is a narrower chamfered window near the west end of the north wall and a similar loop, now blocked, near the north end of the east wall. A larger window midway along the north wall is clearly a later insertion. Internally, there are some interesting features at first floor level. The southern window has a timber lintel (renewed) but the upper block of each jamb is corbelled in to produce a shouldered rear arch. Immediately east of the window is a small wall cupboard (which may not be in its original form) and then a projecting jamb, or pier, which carried the south end of a hood bressumer; the topmost block of this has been a moulded capital, although the mouldings have been mostly cut away. Between the jamb and the end wall is a low stone bench, in the end wall is another wall cupboard, to the south of a later brick fireplace. On the north an infilled socket marks the position of the north end of the hood bressumer. Not enough survives of the phase I bastle to make any comment on its form. In contrast, the phase II building is quite well preserved and has several features demonstrating an unusual degree of refinement. The chamfered basement loop and (formerly) mullioned window at first floor level are both rather sophisticated by bastle standards. Inside, the jamb or pier carrying the hood bressumer and its attached stone inglenook bench are both apparently unique features. The small square hole above the byre doorway is almost certainly a quenching hole; unfortunately the inserted fireplace conceals any evidence of internal features in this position (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

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 ReferenceNY956889
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 258
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 119 (slight)
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 52
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. lxviii
  • Ramm, H.G., McDowall, R.W. and Mercer, E., 1970, Shielings and Bastles (London: HMSO) p. 85 No. 37


  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)
  • 1994-95, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 5 p. 20


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 1 Alnwick District p. 23-5
  • Ryder, P.F., 1990, Northumberland Bastles Survey Unpublished p. 5