Steel; The Tenement

Has been described as a Possible Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameSteel; The Tenement
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishHexhamshire Low Quarter

Steel Hall is mentioned in a rental of 1663. (Hodgson 1897).

NY 93885839. At Steel is a single-storied building, now used as a barn, but which formerly was a dwelling. In the south front are two doorways, with crudely dressed jambs and arched lintels, set in a wall of rough construction. At the west end of this building is attached a later house with modern features.

Local enquiries revealed no historical information, although one of the farmers (Mr D Ellerington) stated that he had heard that the edifice dates from the time of Hexham Abbey. Whether this was the Steel Hall mentioned in 1663 is not certain, but not improbable (F1 JLD 08-MAY-1956).

The earliest parts of The Steel hamlet may have been a defensible house. The east-west range is built of rubble (heavily cemented); the western part has a roof of stone slates, the central and eastern parts asbestos sheeting. Three distinct constructional phases can be recognised:

PHASE I: The eastern third of the range is the earliest part, measuring c.7m by 6.6m externally, although these may not be the original dimensions as the east end is largely if not entirely of 19th century date, and c.0.7m thick as opposed to the c.0.9m of the other three walls. In the south wall is a doorway with a chamfered flat-pointed monolithic head, with to the west of it a slit vent (a slit vent at the east end of the north wall is part of the 19th century alterations when this part of the building was remodelled as a barn). Above and between the door and slit vent are traces of an upper window. In the centre of the west wall is a blocked door with a timber lintel, and in the north wall another blocked doorway, which is probably relatively recent

The western quoins of this part of the building, roughly shaped and quite long, only extend to a height of c.2m above the ground; above this the east wall of the phase II building (the centre part of the range) is built on top of the earlier wall, perhaps suggesting that the phase I part wither had a very low eaves line, or was in a reduced ruinous condition, when the phase II section was built.

PHASE II: The phase II part of the building measures 8.8m by 6.6m externally, with walls between 0.85m and 1m thick. At the east end of the south wall is a doorway with a segmental pointed arch (its head cut out of two stones) and a drawbar tunnel in its west jamb; west of this have been two two-light mullioned windows, the eastern blocked and the western largely destroyed by the insertion of a relatively recent doorway. The eastern of the two first floor windows in this wall has been of two lights also, but with a timber surround, the lintel of which survives. At the east end of the north wall is a similar window, retaining most of its old timber surround, at ground floor level and at the west end of the same wall a blocked doorway into an outshut, now in ruinous condition. Internally this part of the building is sub-divided by a transverse wall of recent brick; the western part has an old fireplace and range (including a barrel oven) against its end wall. High in the east end gable (now internal) is another old formerly mullioned window with a timber surround, looking eastward (and thus part of the phase II rather than the phase I building).

PHASE III: The western third of the range, set at a slightly skew angle to the remainder, is clearly a later (18th century?) addition; its walls are only 0.65m thick; it has a projecting stack on the west gable, and doorways connecting both with the phase II building and a rear outshut. Tusking at the south west corner shows that it was intended to extend the range further west, but this never seems to have been carried out. This part of the building retains an old roof, with principal rafter trusses having collars. There is a tradition that the building is associated with Hexham Priory; there are no features to prove a pre-Dissolution date. All that can be safely said is that the building contains two phases of 16th or early 17th century work, and may have been defensible (although probably not a bastle in the true sense). The stone mullioned windows at ground floor level are probably a late 17th or early 18th century improvement; the rear outshut of the phase II building may have been added at the same time. The phase III extension was made sometime in the 18th century, and later received its own outshut (Ryder 1994-5).

An archaeological assessment and recording of a range containing a house and barn, was made by P Ryder in August/September 1999 prior to being restored as a house. The range is considerably earlier in date than the rest of the hamlet, which dates to the 18th and 19th centuries. The range is known locally as 'The Tenement' and there is a tradition of some link with Hexham Priory. The earliest part of the building appears to be the east end of the rang (Ryder 1999; Ryder 1999-2000). (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
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY938583
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  • Hodgson, John Crawford (ed), 1897, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 4 p. 42 online copy


  • Ryder, P.F., 2002, 'A Building at Steel, Hexhamshire, Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (5th Series) Vol. 30 p. 139-52
  • Ryder, P.F., 2000, Archaeology in Northumberland 1999-2000 p. 26


  • Ryder, P.F., 1999, Building at Steel, Hexhamshire Low Quarter, formerly known as 'The Tenement'
  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. 2 p. 99-100
  • Ryder, P.F., 1990, Northumberland Bastles Survey Unpublished p. 7