Todburn Steel, Slaley

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameTodburn Steel, Slaley
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishSlaley

Two bastles at Todburn Steel.

1: An extended bastle, measures 9.5 x 6.0m, with walls 1.2m thick. First floor beamed ceiling; first floor door in long wall. Present state - house.

2: Bastle, measures 7.5 x 6.0m. Byre door in gable end; first floor beamed ceiling (Ryder 1990).

The farmhouse at Todburn Steel consists of a pair of bastles with later additions.

The western bastle measures 9.4m by 6.8m externally, and the eastern 8.3m by 6.8m. Both are constructed of roughly coursed sandstone rubble with elongate roughly shaped quoins set on an irregular boulder plinth. The side walls are between 0.85m and 1m thick, and the end walls are thicker. It would appear that the original angle quoins were removed and reused when one bastle was built onto the other, with the result that it is now difficult to establish which is the earlier. The western bastle has been heightened and a rear outshut added; the eastern, although apparently in domestic use for some time retains its original form. The only original feature surviving in the western bastle is the byre entrance doorway (now blocked) set centrally in the west end. This is square headed with a narrow chamfer to head and jambs; each jamb is formed of three large and irregular blocks and a seventh forms the massive lintel. The internal splay of the opening has been utilised as a fireplace. The ground floor rooms in this part of the building have transverse beams c.0.1m square, which may be of 18th or early 19th century date.

The eastern bastle retains a number of original features. The present front door at the west end of the south wall is probably original, and has heavy jambs and lintel similar to those of the byre doorway of the western bastle, except that the lintel has been raised and its soffit partly cut away; prior to alterations in the 1970s this opening was partly blocked and used as a window

The doorway leads in to a cross passage; its northern doorway, clearly 19th century in its present form, has a stop chamfered surround of tooled and margined ashlar, but may be in an old position. East of the front doorway is a large modern window where there was once a doorway prior to alterations in the 1970s and a small window further west. This doorway appears to have been a secondary feature as to the east of (and partly destroyed by) its surviving jamb are traces of what may be an original slit vent. At first floor level in the south wall of the eastern bastle are two modern windows, occupying the older openings; the eastern may occupy the upper part of the original first floor door (traces of a blocked opening are visible below its sill) although this does not have heavy dressings like the lower doorways. West of this window is a small square window, now blocked; its proportions suggest that it is an original feature. Further west, immediately to the east of the western window are possible traces of another early window.

The north wall of the eastern bastle contains, in addition to the cross passage doorway, two modern windows; the western, set more or less centrally in the wall, occupies an older doorway, with a timber lintel; although of some age this is clearly an insertion. At first floor level are two small blocked windows which are probably original, a square one to the east of centre and a narrow loop near the west end of the wall.

The external face of the east wall is now exposed within a later outbuilding; set centrally is a blocked opening, of uncertain date (it appears to lack large dressings) with a projecting slab above it; from its position this would appear to relate to a first floor fireplace, although internally there is no visible evidence of one (the wall being plastered). Internally, several features of interest remain in the eastern bastle. At ground floor level there are a number of heavy ceiling beams (up to 0.2m across) which may be original. At first floor level there are several old beams (for a loft floor) and an original roof truss, set centrally. This is of simple principal rafter form, with a cambered collar, carrying two purlins on each roof slope and a diagonally set ridge; all the timbers are of substantial scantling (suggesting that the original roof was of stone flags). There is evidence of a former firehood at the west end; the line of its northern side can be seen in the wall plaster, with soot blackening inside the flue. At its head there has been a rather interesting stone chimney (which remains in part) opening in the south side of the ridge.

It seems probable that the western bastle is the earlier; no clear structural evidence is visible, but a number of extended bastles and bastle derivative buildings elsewhere show a similar arrangement of doorways, a gable end byre entrance in the phase I bastle and a cross passage, set adjacent to the end wall of the earlier building, in the phase II section. Taking the western bastle as the oldest part of the building, it would appear to date to the early 17th century; the eastern bastle (or bastle derivative house) may date from 20 or 30 years later. The western bastle may have been remodelled as a conventional ground floor house in the early 18th century, when the rear outshut was added. The surviving roof structure and the remains of the chimney are of considerable interest (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

Pair of bastle houses, now one dwelling. Late C16/early C17, western bastle heightened in early C19, further alterations 1983. Large rubble with dressings, boulder plinth; slate roof on west part, asbestos sheets on east part, brick stacks. South elevation 2 storeys, 4 bays, irregular. Left 2-bay part has 4-pane sashes to 1st floor (ground floor behind C20 glazed extension); coped gables with stepped end stacks, that to left corniced. Lower right part has renewed door in chamfered surround (head partly cut away) and C20 window to right. 12-pane Yorkshire sash and 12-pane sash (in former door opening) with small blocked window between. Left return shows blocked byre door in chamfered heavy block surround inside later outhouse.

Interior: eastern bastle has 1.2m thick walls and is probably the earlier of the pair. Some old 1st floor beams, 1 principal-rafter truss with collar; 2 levels of purlins; ridge is later addition. (Listed Building Report)

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 ReferenceNY986599
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

No photos available. If you can provide pictures please contact Castlefacts

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Pevsner, N., Richmond, I., Grundy, J., McCombie, G., Ryder, P. and Welfare, H., 2001, The Buildings of England: Northumberland (London: Penguin Books)┬áp. 573
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 460


  • 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. 138-9
  • Ryder, P.F., 1990, Northumberland Bastles Survey Unpublished p. 10