High Carry Farmhouse, Birtley

Has been described as a Possible Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameHigh Carry Farmhouse, Birtley
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishBirtley

Carry House is an old farmhouse, one of the smaller, but still massive, border peles, or bastle houses (Hall 1880).

The roofless remains of a defended house (F1 DAD 19-OCT-1956).

Solitary standing bastle, 11m x 7.2m, with side walls 1.2m thick. Byre entrance in long wall. First floor beamed ceiling and first floor door located in long wall (Ryder 1990).

The former farm of High Carry House stands above an abrupt cliff on the east side of the valley of the North Tyne. The farmhouse, now a ruin, is a remodelled bastle with walls 1.2m thick of roughly coursed large rubble with some galleting, with large roughly shaped quoins. There has been a later outshut on the north, and a small outbuilding to the west, which have largely disappeared. Adjoining the east end is a 19th century barn, still roofed. The building was a roofless shell in 1970, it has since deteriorated further, with the collapse of the upper part of the south wall. The lower doorway is set slightly west of centre in the south wall; it has old jambs and a 19th century head; an old relieving arch above has now fallen. The only other original feature apparent at basement level, is a splayed loop in the centre of the east wall, the internal face of which has been cut back. The upper doorway, square headed and with a chamfered surround, was set above and slightly west of the lower, but it has now fallen. Close to the west end of the walls part of an original first floor window, with a chamfered surround, are still visible. Ramm et al refer to a first floor fireplace at the west end which may have been original, with a massive stone lintel carried on corbels. This has now collapsed. At the east end of the building is a stone wall cupboard near the south end of the wall, and a pair of sockets indicating the former existence of a fire hood

The positioning of both doorways in the long wall, and one or two features (such as the apparent provision of fireplaces at both ends of the first floor) mark this out as a slightly superior bastle and one of some interest.

The ruins are now in poor condition and rapidly deteriorating; the south west corner is now leaning badly. As the published plan and elevation are unsatisfactory, omitting several original features, proper recording is desirable (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

There is a derelict farmstead at High Carry House (NY865790) which is partly roofless and partly good enough for the Birtley Shields farmer to use as a store, but it has thin walls and has never been a fortified building. The OS Pathfinder map has "Peel (rems of)" marked at NY865792, but there is nothing there either. A university student recently spent two days in the area looking for clues and found nothing, not even unlikely looking stone. (Dodds 1999)

Gatehouse Comments

It is difficult to reconcile what Dodds writes with Ryder's detailed description. The roofless ruin shows clearly on the air photo where its thick walls are obvious.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY865791
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Les Hull and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.
Copyright Les Hull and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons license.

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

Calculate Print


  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 339
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 117 (slight)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. lxviii
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 204
  • Ramm, H.G., McDowall, R.W. and Mercer, E., 1970, Shielings and Bastles (London: HMSO) p. 84 No. 32


  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)
  • Hall, G.R., 1880, 'An Account of Researches in Ancient Circular Dwellings near Birtley, Northumberland' Archaeologia Vol. 45.2 p. 357 online copy


  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 4 Tynedale District Vol. 1 p. 42
  • Ryder, P.F., 1990, Northumberland Bastles Survey Unpublished p. 3