Akeld Bastle

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are major building remains

NameAkeld Bastle
Alternative NamesAckfield; Aykeld
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishAkeld

This two-storeyed farm building is the remains of a former bastle. It was first mentioned in 1522, when it was hoped to garrison ten men there, and a 1541 document refers to a 'little fortlet or Bastle House'. The surviving structure is part of a substantial rectangular building used as an animal shelter. It is quite large, for a bastle, measuring 19m by 7.3 m. Like most bastles, the walls are very thick, over 1.2m. Of the original building only the ground floor remains. The rest was rebuilt in C18. The original way was through the main door in the southern end of the west side. There would have been double doors and a drawbar to block the door when necessary. The roof is a semi-circular barrel vault with a very small hole, which would have allowed access to the upper floors through by a ladder. This is good indication of the troubled period of border raiding in this region in C16. (Keys to the Past)

Bastle-house forerunner, now animal shelter. Late medieval, upper storey probably rebuilt late C16 or C17. Random rubble walls 5 ft. thick with dressed stone quoins. Welsh slate roof.

2 storeys c.62 x 25 ft.

Original doorway to right of long west wall has chamfered surround with drawbar holes. Relieving arch over. Later door to left. 3 small shuttered windows on 1st floor. Gabled roof with flat raised coping.

On right return a double outside stone stair to boarded 1st floor door.

On left return 4 slit windows to ground floor. Dovecote above with five stone alighting ledges and 12 holes in stone screens.

Interior has impressive high round tunnel vault.

Field wall attached on right return and stretching c.1OO yards south is very substantially constructed, over 5 ft. high, has a pronounced batter and may partly represent the former barmkin. (Listed Building Report)

First mentioned in 1522 when it was proposed to garrison 10 men there

A survey of 1541 refers to it as a 'little fortlet or Bastle House without a barmkin' (Vickers 1922).

The remains are incorporated in a two storeyed farm building the ancient portion of which comprises a semi-circular vaulted basement measuring externally 62ft 0in north-south by 24ft 6in east-west. The entrance is by square headed door on the west side, and the chamber is lighted by a square loop at each end. There are no indications of an original staircase, the present external one being modern (Bates 1891).

Description correct. The walls are 1.2m thick. Externally the building appear completely modern with rubble walls and ashlar quoins. An external stone stairway gives access to granary and pigeon attic. Two modern doors on west side. In addition to the two square loops referred to there are also several smaller openings or vents, all apparently later insertions.

The building is in good condition and is used as a byre (F1 EG 09-SEP-1955).

The bastle, the upper storey of which is entirely of later date, is of greater length than most, being about 55ft long internally. It has walls 4ft thick built of random rubble with freestone dressings and some large boulders in the base course.

The lower storey is covered by a barrel vault pierced with a ladder-hole 11in by 14in. The doorway is in the long west wall, the jambs having a double check and a tunnel for a drawbar. The only other openings are rough ventilation shafts (Ramm, McDowall and Mercer 1970).

NT 9576 2941. As described by F1 EG 09-SEP-1955; the building is in use as a barn. The upper storey comprises a disused granary and pigeon attic, the entrance being on the short south wall with original external staircase.

In outstanding condition (F3 JRL 23-SEP-1976).

Rectangular building 19 x 7.3m; walls 1.2m thick of red conglomerate rubble with cut sandstone dressings. Only the basement survives of the original buildings; upper storey (and all four angles except for the lower two or three quoins) rebuilt in the 18th century with roughly tooled dressings of blue-grey sandstone. Byre doorway near south end of west side is square-headed with chamfered surround, with relieving arch over; rebates for two doors, with drawbar tunnel in south jamb. Splayed slit vents without cut dressings; north end has three slits with small loop window (with cut stone surround) above. Byre has semicircular barrel vault with very small latter hole (blocked). 18th century upper floor has doorway at south end, reached by double flight of stone steps, and dovecote at north end; several sets of arched entry holes, with alighting bands beneath in north gable. This does not seem to have been a bastle in the usual sense, but a larger building (cf Pressen, Castle Heaton) perhaps better termed a 'strong house' (Ryder, P.F. 20-Jul-1990).

One of the most important historic buildings in the National Park. First mentioned in 1522. Two storeys, c.65ft by 25ft. Original doorway to right of long west wall has chamfered surround with drawbar holes and relieving arch over. Later door to right. On south gable end are double outside stone steps to first floor doorway. The first floor is often described as a later addition but the stonework does not appear to bear this out. 18th century pigeon holes in north gable end. The interior has a dramatic high tunnel vault with four deeply-splayed slit windows. Akeld is of a type very different from the other bastles in the County. It does, however, bear comparison with the little-known 'bastle' at Pressen near Carham and with the remains of Heaton Castle on the river Till. Field walls attached to the south of the bastle stand about 5 feet high with a very pronounced batter on a broad base. They are more substantial than other field walls round about and may represent the remains of defensible outworks to the bastle (Grundy 1987). (Northumberland HER)

Not scheduled

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 ReferenceNT957294
Latitude55.558349609375
Longitude-2.0686399936676
Eastings395766
Northings629407
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Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
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Books

  • Grint, Julia, 2008, Bastles an introduction to the bastle houses of Northumberland (Hexham: Ergo Press) p. 117-20
  • Durham, Keith, 2008, Strongholds of the Border Reivers (Oxford: Osprey Fortress series 70) p. 33
  • Ryder, Peter, 2004, 'Towers and bastles in Northumberland National Park' in Frodsham, P., Archaeology in the Northumberland National Park (CBA Research report 136) p. 262-271
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 69
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 12
  • Graham, Frank, 1993, Northumberian Castles Aln, Tweed and Till (Butler Publishing) p. 3-4 (called a "castle house" presumably a mistranscription)
  • Pevsner, N., 1992 (revised by Grundy, John et al), Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 125
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 11, 32
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 356
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 11-2
  • Ramm, H.G., McDowall, R.W. and Mercer, E., 1970, Shielings and Bastles (London: HMSO) p. 80, no.20
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 52
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles (1970 Reprint by Frank Graham) p. 24-6
  • Vickers, Kenneth H. (ed), 1922, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 11 p. 240 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. xvi, 33 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)

Journals

  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)
  • Ward, T., 1990 May, 'Bastle Houses of the Anglo-Scottish Borders' Fortress: The Castles and Fortifications Quarterly Issue 5 p. 35-43
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 33 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Brewer, J.S. (ed), 1867, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the Reign of Henry VIII Vol. 3 p. 852 No. 1986 online copy
  • 1541, View of the Castles, Towers, Barmekyns and Fortresses of the Frontier of the East and Middle Marches Survey of the East and Middle Marches

Other

  • The Archaeological Practice Ltd., 2004, 'Akeld Northumberland an archaeological and historical study of a border township' Northumberland National Park Historic Village Atlas (The Northumberland National Park Authority) online copy
  • Grundy, J., 1987, The Historic Buildings of the Northumberland National Park AKE1, AKE2