Highfield ruined bastle 1, Tarset

Has been described as a Possible Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameHighfield ruined bastle 1, Tarset
Alternative NamesHigh feelde
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishTarset

(NY 75269061). At the corner of a field to the north of the farmhouse (Highfield), are the remains of a small Pele tower (Clarke).

NY 75389074. Incorporated in a stone dyke are the remains of the east wall of a strong building, the extant portion measures 4m in length, 0.8m in width, and stands to a maximum height of 2m, its construction is of shaped and dressed stone. A splayed window is situated midway along this wall. The dyke stands upon the foundations of the north wall, which extend north from the base of the dyke for 0.6m. The western and southern extents of the building may be traced in a pasture field by low banks 4m wide with a maximum height of 0.3m. Overall measurements of the building are 8.5m east-west and 5.5m north-south. The stone dyke east of the remains contains many dressed stones, some bearing lead-filled holes, and one with a bar-hole. The remains are too fragmentary to classify as to period, but appear to be those of a pele-house or bastle rather than a tower (F1 FDC 31-AUG-1956).

The remains of a pele lie in a field adjacent to Highfield with a later structure built over the foundations. Traces of old fields, folds and ploughing remain (Long 1988).

In the field to the north of the farm is a ruined building (NY 75389074) immediately to the west of the track. The lower part of the east end, of roughly coursed large rubble, stands to c.2m high; it is 0.8m thick and has a central splayed slit vent. The north wall has been rebuilt, inside the old line (the original footing shows through the grass 0.7m further north) as a field wall; some projecting blocks on the internal face appear to show the position of the west end which is also visible, together with the line of the south wall, as a slight mound. The overall dimensions of the building appear to be c.8.5m by 6m

Although the surviving end wall is not especially thick, the dimensions of the building and the character of its masonry, together with the slit vent, make it appear likely that the building was a bastle (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

Gatehouse Comments

One of a group of several bastles near Tarset Head, 8.5 to 12 km nw of Bellingham. Others in group include Black Middens 1 and 2, Waterhead, Shilla Hill (Starr Head), Bog Head (Corby's Castle, Barty's peel), The Comb (Combe, Keame), Hill House and a possible bastle in the nearby Farm

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY753907
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Grint, Julia, 2008, Bastles an introduction to the bastle houses of Northumberland (Hexham: Ergo Press) p. 64
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 300
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. lxviii, Vol. 2 p. 361
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 161


  • 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
  • Dixon, P.W., 1972, 'Shielings and bastles: a reconsideration of some problems' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 50 p. 249-58

Primary Sources

  • Bain, J.G. (ed), 1894, Calendar of Letters and Papers Relating to the Affairs of the Borders of England and Scotland (Edinburgh) Vol. 1 p. 109 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
  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. 2 p. 139-40
  • Long, B., 1988, List of Ancient Monuments - The Kielder Forests. Unpublished (Forestry Commission)
  • H F Clarke Essex Arch Soc (Author of The Towers & Fortified Houses of Northum 1905 - 1956 Private work unpublished)