Whitley Castle Bastle 1, Kirkhaugh

Has been described as a Possible Bastle

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameWhitley Castle Bastle 1, Kirkhaugh
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishKnaresdale with Kirkhaugh

There is evidence for three post-Roman buildings within the walls of the fort. Two of these, similar in outline and probably in date, lie within the retentura, close by and roughly parallel with the south western rampart.

The southern of these two buildings is marked by a well-defined robbing trench around the line of its foundations, 1m or more in width, which indicates a structure some 16 m in length and 6.5m wide. A square pit-like extension to this trench suggests a small but strongly-built extension at its southern end - perhaps the foundations of a flight of steps to a first floor entrance - and a small angular projection indicates a second lesser addition, or perhaps a connecting yard wall, on the western side. In terms of overall size, and the evident thickness of the wall, this building can be identified as a bastle, or bastle-like house: a stout, defendable dwelling, with living quarters above and byre below, of a type that first became widespread throughout the Borders during the turbulent years of the later 16th and early 17th centuries and persisted into the later 17th century.

The bastle appears to have been deliberately located on the northern end of the southern barrack block, possibly in order to utilise the earlier foundations, or maybe to benefit from the drainage afforded by this slightly raised platform. The southern end of the building is surrounded by an irregular-shaped sunken yard, and other worn areas, perhaps stock pens, extending across the southern corner of the fort interior and scalloped into the rampart behind the fort wall to the west. To the east a further sunken yard mirrors the dimensions of the bastle, and is marked by robbing trenches on the northern side which may indicate that it was formerly surrounded by a wall, although this impression might equally have resulted from chasing out earlier barrack foundations, a process which is much in evidence across the whole area

One small rectangular area of raised and level ground stands out amidst all this disturbance immediately to the south-east of the bastle. This might be the platform of another, less substantial building, or, given the absence of convincing geophysical evidence for such, a contemporary yard or garden plot (garth). Access to this corner of the fort, which seems to have effectively served as the bastle garth, may have been reintroduced through a notch worn through the area of the closed south-west gate, and by the well-defined route which skirts the collapsed southern corner tower before entering on a ramped track through the south-eastern wall. (Went and Ainsworth)

Gatehouse Comments

See records for Whitley Castle Bastle 2; Whitlow bastles 1, 2 and 3 and Holymire Bastle

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY694486
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  • Lake, J. and Edwards, R., 2006, Historic Farmsteads. Preliminary Character Statement: North West Region (University of Gloucester, English Heritage and the Countryside Agency)


  • Went, D. and Ainsworth, S., 2013, 'Whitley Castle, Northumberland: An Analytical Survey of the Fort and its Setting' Britannia Vol. 44 p. 93-143 esp. 122-25


  • Went, David and Ainsworth, Stewart, 2009, Whitley Castle, Tynedale, Northumberland An archaeological investigation of the Roman fort and its setting (Research Department Report Series 89) p. 59-66 online copy
  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. ? p.