Bolt House, Kirkwhelpington

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are no visible remains

NameBolt House, Kirkwhelpington
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishKirkwhelpington

The only remaining peel at Kirkwhelpington is called the Bolt House and consists (in 1827) of a byre or cow-house below with family apartments, on a boarded floor, above. Access to the upper part is by an outside stone stairs and to the lower part by doorway under the landing of the stairs (Hodgson 1827).

The site occurs in a pasture field and on the summit of a slight rise. No visible remains. Hodgson's description, however, is that of a typical bastle, rather than a peel (F1 EG 16-APR-1956). (Northumberland HER)

The only peel house remaining in the place is called THE BOLT HOUSE consists of a byer or cow-house below, and the family apartments above, viz.: an upper room with a boarded floor, and a garret, both approached by stone stairs on the outside, and the whole covered with thatch. The door-way to the cow-house is under the landing of the stairs, and the door of it was fastened with a strong bolt in the inside, for which purpose the byer and the upper room had a communication by a trap-hole, that is, by a horizontal door in a corner of the floor, and a trap or ladder; for the English word trap, in the terms, a trap-way, trap-hole, trap-door, and trap-rock, has the same origin as the Swedish and German words trap and treppe, which mean stairs, and seem to owe their origin to some obsolete inflection of the German and English verbs treten and to tread. This was the character of the principal farm-houses in Northumberland a hundred years since. The peels of the lairds, or yeomanry proprietors, had each a stone arch over the byer,and were frequently covered with freestone slate, which made them more secure than houses with thatched roofs, from being burnt in the plundering irruptions of the Scotch, and of their no less troublesome neighbours, the people of Redesdale

The cottage next to the bolt-house, on the right, is a good specimen of an inferior farm-house, the room at the entrance of which was, and still continues in many places to be, a byer in winter and a bed-room in summer, and is called the Out-bye: the In-bye, or inner room, with three small windows to the left of the out-door, was the dwelling of the family, and often partitioned by two pressbeds into two apartments. (Hodgson 1827)

Gatehouse Comments

The six-inch OS map of 1863 show a partly roofed building and the name 'Bolt house (in ruins)' by the 1895 the map has 'Bolt House (site of)'. Hodgson's description of a typical of a 'pele-house' and Hodgson's use of the term peel shows a far better understanding of this complex and nuanced term than the 1956 field archaeologist suggests.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY998845
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 242
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 51
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 350
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 76-7
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 72
  • Hodgson, J., 1827, History of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Part 2 Vol. 1 p. 189 (with sketch) online copy


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