Scarrow Hill

Has been described as a Questionable Bastle

There are major building remains

NameScarrow Hill
Alternative NamesSkarrow Hill
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishBrampton

House, constructed in 1601; converted to mid C18 coaching inn, and later divided into a pair of cottages, now returned to a single dwelling.

Reasons for Designation

Scarrow Hill is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Date: securely dated by dendrochronology to 1601, this dwelling clearly falls within the period when there is a presumption in favour of listing;

Rarity: an early and rare example of a thin-walled non-defended dwelling constructed at a time when the established vernacular tradition of the period was the defended thick-walled bastle;

Evolution: an evolved building, that retains significant evidence of its original and subsequent phases and is well documented;

Roof structure: a complete and good quality oak roof structure of high constructional interest with unusual assembly marks and many highly visible apotropaic marks.


The established vernacular tradition between c.1575 and c.1650 in the northern border counties of England was the construction of bastles: small thick-walled farmhouses in which the living quarters are situated above a ground floor byre. They were occupied by middle-rank farmers where the need for such strongly defended farmsteads can be related to the troubled social conditions of the later Middle Ages, which in these border areas lasted until (indeed after) the union of the English and Scottish Crowns in 1603. Although constructed in 1601 in the middle of the bastle building period, Scarrow Hill has thin walls of only 0.62m. Recent research which considers the building in the context of neighbouring contemporary buildings including two bastles and a mill suggests that it may, however, appear to be constructed in the bastle tradition of a dual purpose building; in this case with living accommodation on the first floor above not a byre but, a possible blacksmiths workshop, which utilised the large single original hearth at the west end of the building

Scarrow Hill is securely dated by dendochronology to 1601; fourteen samples from the roof structure and ground floor ceiling each have a felling date of 1601, considered to represent a single programme of felling. The building was constructed for Gregory Hall, a customary tenant, who established his tenant right before the arrival of the Howard Family at Naworth in 1602. Historical documents both appear to confirm the construction date, and furnish further information regarding the nature of the original building and its subsequent evolution. The earliest known documentary reference to 'Scarrow Hill' is the will of Thomas Hall in 1596, which appears to refer to the intended construction of the new building. However, the first mention of Scarrow Hill that can be securely tied to the present building occurs in the 1603 Gilsland Survey, where the accompanying map states 'Skarrow Hill in Brampton Greg Hall'. Gregory Hall was probably a blacksmith as his probate inventory of 1607 records among his possessions 'tools of Smith's craft' and debtors for 'ironwork wrought'. Naworth estate and household accounts between 1648 and 1660 record Thomas Hall (son of Gregory) as a Smith, and other estate documents from 1675 describe William Hall, Blacksmith. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Scarrow Hill is not a bastle but is included in Gatehouse as a well documented example of a 'bastle derivative' a type of house that is confused with bastle houses in some accounts. It also has some significant remains of a early C17 roof of a type probably common in actual bastle houses.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY569618
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Photo by Catherine Bancroft All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Catherine Bancroft All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Catherine Bancroft All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image
Photo by Catherine Bancroft All Rights ReservedView full Sized Image

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  • Bancroft, C., 2010, 'Scarrow Hill in the Seventeenth Century. A Reconsideration of Vernacular Architecture c.1600 near Naworth, Cumbria' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 10 p. 137-146

Primary Sources

  • Graham, T. H. B. (ed.). 1934, The barony of Gilsland. Lord William Howard's survey, taken in 1603 (Feild-Booke yt explaines all the Map Booke for Gilsland taken in 1603) (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 16)


  • A J Arnold, R E Howard, M Hurford, 2009, Tree-Ring Analysis of Timbers From Scarrow Hill, Brampton, Cumbria