Smalesworth Pele

Has been described as a Possible Pele Tower, and also as a Possible Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameSmalesworth Pele
Alternative NamesWest Ridley Stokoe; Brown Hills; Ridley Stokoe
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishFalstone

The remains of a strong stone-built building approximately 6m square with walls 1.2m thick, and maximum height 2m. Possibly the ruins of a small tower (F1 RE 13-AUG-1970).

The remains of a building measuring 6m square internally between walls 1m thick which stand to a maximum height of 1.6m. An entrance is in the west end of the north wall. The building has at one time continued to the east in an 'L' shaped extension which has been extensively robbed and is now only visible as low (0.2m maximum height) turf-covered footings. About 30m to the north are remains of probably contemporary turf-covered stone-walled stock enclosures set up against a field wall. The whole appears to have been a defensive farmstead incorporating a pele (F2 ISS 02-MAY-1977).

Ruined building at Smalesmouth 400m west of Ridley Stokoe. Bastle-like building on a low ridge S of, and running parallel to, the North Tyne (situation very like that of ruin 800m ENE of Ridley Stokoe). Ruined rectangular building c.12.4m by 7.4m. Walls c.1m thick of large roughly-squared stone with large and irregular quoins; west end stands to 1.8m high, side walls lower, east part reduced to grassed over foundations. Doorway at west end north wall has jambs moulded with a double hollow; drawbar tunnel in east jamb; fallen lintel with harr socket. Possible opposed doorway on south, with further east remains of a window (lintel lying nearby) with similar mouldings and sockets for iron bars. Interior: footings of cross wall midway along building. The building seems to have formed the west part of a range on the south side of a rectangular enclosure. West side of enclosure formed by an old boundary wall; other buildings under grass. Whole site needs surveying (F3 PFR 03-JUL-1990).

Late 16th or early 17th century building, built of random rubble. The walls, which are 45-50 inches thick, stand from about 5 feet to about 2 feet high

The doorway is in the north-west corner at the end of one of the long walls. It has a surround which is chamfered with an outer decoration of one narrow and one broad hollow chamfer. The fallen lintel in the doorway has a harr hole. On the south side there are parts of a window with a chamfered surround and four square holes for mullions or bars. Inside is a small square wall cupboard in the south-west corner. West of the house is an enclosure with walls fo similar character standing up to about 3 feet high. This is a building of unusual form, similar in masonry, wall thickness and date to the bastlehouses, but different in style in that the window is on the ground floor and the door in an uncharacteristic position. Deserves more detailed investigation (Grundy 1987). (Northumberland HER)

Gatehouse Comments

This may be the site called 'Brown Hills' recorded by MacLauchlan in a list of local 'Pele Towers' given to him by an old resident - most of these 'towers' actually were bastles or pele-houses. The 'Brown Hills' site is in a list of sites along the River North Tyne, however Gatehouse has not been able to identify the common 'brown hills' place-name specifically to this site, although it is hilly moorland (and therefore often brown - although that can be said of much of the area), an alternative identification may be Stokoe Crags, which is a more hilly location.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY739854
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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. 309
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. lxviii
  • MacLauchlan, H., 1867, Notes not included in the memoirs already published on Roman roads in Northumberland: taken during a survey made by direction of the Duke of Northumberland (London) p. 73 online copy


  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)
  • Dixon, P.W., 1972, 'Shielings and bastles: a reconsideration of some problems' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 50 p. 249-58


  • Grundy, J., 1987, The Historic Buildings of the Northumberland National Park, GREY15.