White Lea Bastle, Kirkhaugh

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameWhite Lea Bastle, Kirkhaugh
Alternative NamesWhite Leas
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishKnaresdale with Kirkhaugh

Bastle house, late C16 or early C17 altered later c17; farm building probably late C18. House massive rubble with roughly-shaped quoins, stone dressings. Farm building rubble with dressings, stone slate roofs. House 2 storeys, irregular fenestration. Central boarded door with alternating jambs; to left C20 window, to right 2-light window with ovolo-section mullion and old iron bars, lintel inscribed 'N : L : K : L : APR : 1682' between stylised foliage. 1st floor has a small slit and 2 small windows in chamfered surrounds, the left,set within the blocking of an earlier 1st floor door, retains its old iron bar. Old stone gable stacks, that to left heightened when the farm building was built. Farm building to left has 2 doorways with alternating jambs. 2 ground-floor boarded doors to farm building, that to right in old chamfered surround, loading door above and to right. Interior of farm building: blocked byre door of original bastle visible, with chamfered surround. Original small 1st floor loop in rear wall of bastle now opens into later outshut. A good example of a bastle house modified in the late C17 with a later farm building providing byre and barn facilites. (Listed Building Report 1985)

Solitary bastle, 10.9m long x 6.4m wide. Byre entrance in gable wall. First floor door in long wall (Ryder 1986).

The house consists of a bastle, 10.9m by 6.5m externally, with a later outshut on the north; there is an adjacent rather taller farmbuilding at the west end

The side walls of the bastle are c.0.85m thick and the end walls a little over 1m; they are constructed of heavy rubble with roughly shaped quoins and dressings.

EXTERIOR: The square headed byre doorway of the original bastle is set rather unusually at the north end of the west wall; at first floor level the remains of the upper doorway are visible in the south wall, set west of centre; there are original splayed first floor loops at each end of the south wall (the eastern now blocked) and at the west end of the north wall. The present doorway is set centrally in the south wall; its head and upper jambs are of tooled and margined stone (and probably of 19th century date) but the lower jambs are older stonework, carrying a narrow chamfer. To the east of the doorway is a two-light mullioned window, with ovolo section mullion and surround and a sunk panel on the lintel with the inscription, carved in relief between two sprigs of foliage: N : L : K : L : APR : 1682. The eastern light retains a diagonally set iron bar; the bar in the western light has been replaced in wood.

Probably coeval with this window are two single-light chamfered windows in the same wall at first floor level (the western, set in the blocking of the upper bastle door, retains an old iron bar), and two in the north wall, one at ground floor level opening into the outshut, and one further west at first floor level. A larger ground floor window to the west of the door may be a 19th century insertion. There are no clear signs of any openings in the east end gable of the house, although heavy pointing may obscure features here; near the apex of the gable are some large slabs set horizontally and projecting from the wall face; these probably helped to support an earlier version of the stack.

The outshut on the north of the house has been built in two parts; the eastern part, of squared and coursed stone, may be of later 18th or early 19th century date; the western part, which slightly overlaps the attached outbuilding, is more recent.

INTERIOR: Internally, the first floor now only extends over the western two thirds of the house; it is carried on 19th century softwood beams. There is a projecting stack set against the centre of each gable; a pair of small wall cupboards flank the eastern stack at first floor level, which rises between a pair of corbels carrying the cantilevered stack. There are several corbels for former first floor beams, including a pair above the mullioned window; there is a heavy corbel, probably for an original roof truss, higher up the north wall above the present ladder/stair to the partial first floor. Above the 17th century window opening into the outshut is a strange little recess 0.5m wide, 0.12m high and 0.22m deep, perhaps a locker.

The present roof trusses (the roof is of four bays) are of collar beam type, with both bolted and pegged joints; they are probably of early 19th century date.

OUTBUILDING: The outbuilding is largely of 19th century date, but incorporates some remains of an older building. This is the earliest standing building on the site; the lower courses of the south wall extend beneath the south west quoins of the bastle. The eastern of the two doorways in the south wall of the building has chamfered jambs cut from massive blocks, and a later tooled and margined lintel. The lower part of the north wall is also early and extends, in a ruinous condition, 4.5m beyond the present building to the west; this section is 0.75m thick. The east wall of the outbuilding (ie the west wall of the house), seen from within the outbuilding, has a blocked opening at first floor level, near the north end of the wall, which may be an old wall cupboard of the original phase I bastle or house; higher up are a pair of corbels for the cantilevered end stack of the present house.

White Lea demonstrates a four phase building history. The first phase represented by the early walling incorporated in the outbuilding is of uncertain date. Its walls do not really seem thick enough to be those of a bastle. It may be a late medieval pre-bastle house, perhaps a long house. The bastle itself is probably of early 17th century date, and has both its doorways in rather unusual positions, that to the byre off centre in the west gable, that to the upper floor left of centre in the south wall; in the majority of bastles the byre doorway is set in the centre of the right hand gable end, and the upper doorway right of centre in the front wall. The building was remodelled as a conventional ground floor house at an unusually early date for this area, shown by the '1682' inscription. A second remodelling took place early in the 19th century; the first floor and roof structures date from this time, as may the earlier part of the rear outshut. The outbuilding was either remodelled, or built on the ruins of the phase I house, at or around the same period.

About 10m to the west of the outbuilding are the remains of a roughly rectangular enclosure around 15m square; its south wall is represented by quite massive footings, with a projecting mass of masonry at one point which might be the base of an external stair. It is not clear what type of building or structure these footings represent; it may be of archaeological interest (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 ReferenceNY724497
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  • Pevsner, N., Richmond, I., Grundy, J., McCombie, G., Ryder, P. and Welfare, H., 2001, The Buildings of England: Northumberland (London: Penguin Books)┬áp. 365
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 386
  • Ryder, Peter, 1996, Bastle Houses in the Northern Pennines (Alston: The North Pennines Heritage Trust) p. 20, 21


  • 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 4 Tynedale District Vol. 2 p. 123-5
  • Ryder, P.F., 1986, Pers. comm. to Northumberland HER