Waterhead Bastle

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are masonry footings remains

NameWaterhead Bastle
Alternative NamesWater head
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishTarset

Remains of bastle south east of 19th century cottage. Rectangular building 7m wide x c.15m long; walls of heavy rubble. The lower part of the south east end wall, 1.6m thick and with a central slit vent, is incorporated in a later field wall. A recent trench across the north east end revealed a wall 2m thick pierced by a drain (Ryder, P F 24-JUL-1990 Field Investigation).

First mentioned in 1552; listed in 1568 as part of the Northumberland moiety of Tarset Manor; raided in 1583; inhabited by the Hunters in the 17th century. Held as Bog Head in 1749 and 1766; marked on Armstrong's map of 1769; not listed in 1770. Home of a labourer in 1850. The bastle remains as a mound between the cottage and the field. One gable end is clearly visible in the field wall (Long 1988). (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, Highfield, Shilla Hill (Starr Head), Bog Head (Corby's Castle, Barty's peel), The Comb (Combe, Keame), Hill House.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY767901
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Calculate Print


  • Grint, Julia, 2008, Bastles an introduction to the bastle houses of Northumberland (Hexham: Ergo Press) p. 62-4
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 300


  • 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
  • Graham, A., 1945-6, 'Notes on Some Northumbrian 'Peles' Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Vol. 80 p. 37-43 online copy

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., 1990, Bastles and Towers in the Northumberland National Park (Report for Northumberland National Park Authority) p. 41
  • Long, B., 1988, List of Ancient Monuments - The Kielder Forests. Unpublished (Forestry Commission)