Gatehouse North Bastle, Tarset

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are major building remains

NameGatehouse North Bastle, Tarset
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishTarset

Bastlehouse. C16 or early C17. Random rubble with Welsh slate roof. 2 storeys. c.40 x 25 ft. Stone stairs to original 1st-floor doorway which has alternating-block surround with rounded arrises. Small chamfered window to right with blind segmental-arch over. To left small square window with chamfered surround. C19 gabled roof.

Original ground-floor doorway, in right gable end, has relieving arch over.

Interior: walls c.5 ft. thick. Rebated doorway with drawbar tunnels. Old beams support 1st floor. Corbelled out at south-west end to support fireplace. (Listed Building Report)

North Bastle at Gatehouse survives very well and is a good example of its type. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of other bastles in the vicinity, taken together they will add to our knowledge and understanding of post medieval settlement.

The monument includes the remains of a bastle, a form of defended farmhouse, situated in a commanding position overlooking the Tarset Valley. It is also situated at the north west end of a farm steading and is one of a group of five bastles which once comprised the small hamlet of Gatehouse. The bastle is rectangular in shape and measures 11.4m by 7m externally with walls of large rubble 1.45m thick with large quoin stones at the corners. The bastle stands two storeys high with walls 9m to eaves level and was re-roofed in the 19th century. The original square headed doorway giving access into the ground floor basement is situated in the centre of the north eastern gable. It has been raised by cutting into the lintel and is furnished with draw bar tunnels and hanging sockets for two doors. The doorway in the north west gable is a 19th century insertion. A single slit window in the south east wall served to ventilate the basement. The upper floor is carried on massive timber beams, now built into the walls but originally carried on stone supports or corbels on the long walls

The external stone stair on the south east side is a secondary feature; an earlier stone platform at first floor level is thought to have originally been reached by a wooden ladder. The upper doorway is placed behind the stone stair platform and has original small windows placed to either side. Inside the bastle at first floor level there are wall cupboards built against each gable and a fire place, of 18th century, date on the south west gable. The monument is a Grade II-star Listed Building. The two fence lines which cross the monument are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included. (Scheduling Report 1997)

(NY 78798895) At Gatehouse are two 'ancient dwellings' placed on each side of the road and at right angles to each other. Each has consisted of a heavily built oblong stone house two storeys in height. The ground floor had no external opening except a door at one end but could also be entered by trap door from above. The upper floor has a door reached by outside stair and two small window openings.

The north house bears most of these features intact but has a modern entrance inserted at one end of the ground floor. The other house has had a lean-to addition on the back and a square extension at one end. About 100 years ago (c.1840) the front wall was rebuilt, with a door in the centre and sash windows. There is an original doorway at its west end. A large opening has recently been made to enable the building to be used as a garage or barn and the windows boarded up. Both houses seem to date from Henry VIII or Elizabeth but nothing is known of their history. (Architectural description of both buildings) (Dodds 1940).

'Gatehouse' formerly known as 'Yethouse'. The two peel houses, neither of which is occupied, cannot easily be dated. One of them has in its north gable a little doorway of late 16th or very early 17th century date (Brown 1938).

Two rectangular, two-storey, gabled stone houses situated upon a south west facing slope, in open moorland, overlooking the valley of the Tarset Burn, with commanding view to the north and east. 'A' NY 78788898. In good repair, the northern building now in use as a barn. 11.4m long, 7.2m wide, approx 9m high with walls 1.3m thick. Miss E C Thompson, of Gatehouse Farm has no further information about these buildings (F1 ASP 09-JUL-1956).

Gatehouse North Bastle. Rectangular building 11.4m x 7m externally with walls 1.45m thick (north east end) of massive rubble with galleting, and heavy roughly-squared quoins. Byre doorway in centre north east end has lintel partly cut away, and relieving arch above; rounded arris to jambs. Double door checks with drawbar tunnels and harr sockets to both doors. Nineteenth century doorway in south west end. Slit vent on south east (continued through added stone stair). Stone stair leads up to earlier stone platform (originally reached by ladder?) in front of upper door. Upper door has chamfered surround, with small original windows to either side.

Interior shows stone cupboards etc; 18th century fireplace at south west end. Nineteenth century roof replacing earlier cruck structure. Structural survey 1974 by Ian Curry of Charlewood, Curry, Wilson and Atkinson, Architects, preceding DOE funded repairs. Listed grade II-star (F3 PFR 25-JUN-1990).

Built of random rubble with Welsh slate roof. Amongst the most impressive of the surviving bastles. It is very little altered. The front has stone steps to the first floo rdoorway, a typical doorway with an alternating-block surround and rounded jambs. To the right is a small square window with a blind segmental arch above. To the left is a more typical small square window with a chamfered surround. The original ground-floor window is on the right gable end. It has a relieving arch over. 19th century gabled roof. Inside, the walls are about 5 feet thick. The ground floor is a most impressive, almost barbaric room with a low ceiling of massive, twisted old beams. At one end, the wall is corbelled out to supprt the weight of the fireplace above; while at the other, the massive rebated dorrway with its drawbar holes is eloquent evidence of the need for strength (Grundy 1987). (Northumberland HER)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

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 ReferenceNY787889
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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

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Latitude 55° 11' 40.74" Longitude -2° 20' 5.22"

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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 55° 11' 40.74" Longitude -2° 20' 5.22"

View full Sized Image
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 55° 11' 40.74" Longitude -2° 20' 5.22"

View full Sized Image
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

() above

Latitude 55° 11' 40.74" Longitude -2° 20' 5.22"

View full Sized Image

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  • Durham, Keith, 2008, Strongholds of the Border Reivers (Oxford: Osprey Fortress series 70) p. 32 (slight)
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  • Brown, P., 1938, The Friday Book of North Country Sketches (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 3 p. 115


  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)
  • Lax, Amy, 1999, 'Border Troubles and Border Farmers: A study of Bastle Houses in the Upper Tarset Valley, Northumberland' Northern Archaeology Vol. 17/18 p. 165-72
  • Ward, T., 1990 May, 'Bastle Houses of the Anglo-Scottish Borders' Fortress: The Castles and Fortifications Quarterly Issue 5 p. 35-43
  • Graham, A., 1945-6, 'Notes on Some Northumbrian 'Peles' Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Vol. 80 p. 37-43 online copy


  • The Archaeological Practice Ltd., 2004, 'Tarset and Greenhaugh Northumberland an archaeological and historical study of a border township' Northumberland National Park Historic Village Atlas p. 42-3 (slight) (The Northumberland National Park Authority) online copy
  • Grundy, J., 1987, The Historic Buildings of the Northumberland National Park TAR8