Low Cleughs Bastle, Corsenside

Has been described as a Certain Bastle

There are major building remains

NameLow Cleughs Bastle, Corsenside
Alternative NamesLowcleughs; Cleughs Burn; High Cleughs; Low Cleughs; Low Leam II
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishCorsenside

(NY 87778674) Peel (Remains of) (OS 6 inch (Prov) 1921-48)

An ancient Border tower now in ruins ... Property of Mr Scott Lowleam.

The remains of a rectangular building with external measurements of 13.2m x 7.3m. The walls, 1.1m to 1.3m thick, are of undressed stones, some very large, with roughly squared quoins. Two internal set-backs at 1st and 2nd floor levels and traces of joist holes suggest that the building had three floors the uppermost of which may have been an attic.

In the south wall there are two doorways, one above the other, at ground and first floor levels. Both have holes for sliding drawbars and the upper doorway has large pivot holes in lintel and threshold. In the first floor there are small rectangular windows with chamfered surrounds but the ground floor has no window openings. There are no traces of fireplaces or of any internal or external staircase.

The thickness of the walls and the door securing arrangements indicate that this building was of a defensive character and is of the type called Bastles or pele houses in Northumberland. These came late in the era of border fortification, which possible accounts for this example's omission from the Border Surveys of 1415, 1542 and 1584. The architectural features indicate a 16th or early 17th date.

The situation is on a south-east slope between the 500 and 600 foot contour, with a water supply immediately to the west.

The remains are in generally poor condition with the south-west corner recently collapsed. Local enquiries revealed no significant field names (Rev ONB p2).

Rectangular building 13m x 7.2m with walls 1.2-1.5m thick of roughly-coursed roughly-squared stone with galleting. Roofless shell with upper parts of gables and whole south corner fallen. Byre doorway in long south-east side, has square head with rounded arris to jambs and lintel; two drawbar tunnels

Upper doorway directly above is similar, with two small windows to left (one partly fallen) and one to right, all with similar surrounds and evidence of iron bars. Interior shows sockets for first floor beams, hearth corbelling at south-west end, wall cupboards and evidence of attic floor. Front (south-east) wall in imminent danger of collapse; inner face has fallen and upper part leans inwards. Urgent need for consolidation, and perhaps clearance of fallen rubble (F3 PFR 26-JUN-1990).

Site visit by David Stocker and Terry Girdler (English Heritage) and Caroline Hardie (NCC) 9-Jan-1991. Agreed it was of major importance and in need of urgent attention. The south wall needs emergency work. Specification for works in parish file T14. (Letter, Stephen Walton (English Heritage) 24-Jan-1991).

Bastle recorded on 1st ed OS 25 inch as 'Low Cleughs', c.1860. The walls mainly stand to eaves level but the gables have fallen. Dated to c.1600 and some features suggest it is a higher status bastle, ie its size (2m longer than most bastles, three first floor windows) and it has both doorways in the long front wall. Two small walled enclosures and a paddock are shown attached to the bastle on the 1st ed OS 25 inch map (c.1860) but little is visible today. The importance of Low Cleughs lies in the 'superior' class of bastle which it represents and its escape from any post-bastle modifications (Ryder 1991).

Low Cleughs Bastle, 580m NNE of Low Leam Farm. Scheduling revised on 22nd March 1994, new national monument number 25036.

The monument includes the remains of a bastle, or defended medieval farmhouse, situated on a south-east slope of moorland on the edge of a small tributary of the River Rede. The structure, composed of roughly squared stone and surviving in original form to eaves level, is rectangular in shape, measuring 13.3m by 7.5m externally with walls 1.2m-1.4m thick. The upper gables have fallen and the bastle is roofless. Both the basement, or byre, and the first floor living area were entered through doorways in the long south side, placed one above the other; this is unusual in bastle construction where the normal entry to the byre is through a doorway placed in one of the gable ends. Both doorways are square headed and display two drawbar tunnels and sockets for doorposts. There are beam sockets around the upper walls of the basement in which timbers supporting the upper floor were held. The upper storey has three rectangular windows with chamfered surrounds in the south wall, two to the left and one, partly fallen, to the right of the doorway in the south wall. The windows show that they were at one time blocked by iron bars and at least one was hung with shutters. It is not certain how the inhabitants of the bastle gained access to the upper storey doorway as there are no remains of an external staircase and given the unusual situation of the doorway, the existence of one would have blocked entry to the byre entrance. It is thought that traces of beam slots in the upper walls of the first floor suggest that there may have been an attic floor above.

Surrounding the bastle there are the slight remains of attached enclosures and smaller buildings visible as low stony walls and ditches; these features are represented on the earliest Ordnance Survey map in 1860 as a second building of similar proportions to the bastle and small enclosures and paddocks.

Low Cleughs bastle survives well without any post-bastle modifications. The existence of a possible attic storey, its three first floor windows and its larger than usual size suggest that this is a 'superior' type of bastle occupied by a resident of higher status than usual (Scheduling Report 1994).

The bastle is in an advanced state of collapse. Plans being prepared in 1993 to consolidate it as a picturesque but stable ruin, and the work to be completed in 1994. Prior to this the structure was recorded by students from Newcastle University (Weir 1993-4).

Consolidation works took place at the bastle in 1997. Excavation of fallen debris inside the bastle was watched by The Archaeological Practice. The inner face of the walls was rebuilt and the south west corner. The whole structure was repointed (Weir 1997-8).

A documentary study of the bastle concluded that available evidence suggests the present bastle is early 17th century in date, it being documented in 1604; no evidence was found for earlier settlement on the site but it should not be discounted. The associated enclosures are undated but assumed to be contemporary. Other structures on the site are attested by documentary evidence, one of which is likely to have succeeded the bastle as a dwelling. The site was occupied until the mid-19th century. The Tithe Map (1839) shows two principal buildings, one the bastle, each associated with an enclosure. The buildings are visually differentiated perhaps in relation to their state of repair. It is suggested that the second building may represent a structure built on the foundations of a former bastle (The Archaeological Practice, 1998). (Northumberland HER)

Ruined bastle. Late C16 or early C17. Random rubble with massive quoins on boulder plinth. Walls 4 ft thick. 45 ft by 25 ft. 3 walls stand almost to full height. Original ground-floor door, to right of centre in long side, has massive jamb stones and lintel with rounded arrises. Similar surrounds to original upper door directly above. Left and right on 1st floor small square windows with chamfered surrounds and holes for iron bars. Rear wall has slit windows on both floors.

Inside has rebates for harr-hung door and drawbars. There is a set-back at 1st floor level for roof timbers and corbelling on right gable end for fireplace. 3 square recesses. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Marked Lowcleughs on 1866 map. The surfit of names for this site suggest that the two sites at Highcleughs and Lowcleughs have become confused in some writers minds. Christopherson lists two site 'Low Cleughs Bastle' and 'Low Leam II' but gives 12 figure grid references both of which lie within the footprint of Low Cleughs.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

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 ReferenceNY877867
Latitude55.1747817993164
Longitude-2.19352006912231
Eastings387770
Northings586730
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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
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
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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Books

  • Grint, Julia, 2008, Bastles an introduction to the bastle houses of Northumberland (Hexham: Ergo Press) p. 84-88
  • Durham, Keith, 2008, Strongholds of the Border Reivers (Oxford: Osprey Fortress series 70) p. 34-5 (slight)
  • < >Carlton, Richard and Rushworth, Alan, 2004, 'Low Cleughs A bastle in its landscape' in Frodsham, P., Archaeology in the Northumberland National Park (CBA Research report 136) p. 295-305 < >
  • 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. 321
  • Pevsner, N., 1992 (revised by Grundy, John et al), Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 632
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 357
  • Ramm, H.G., McDowall, R.W. and Mercer, E., 1970, Shielings and Bastles (London: HMSO) p. 85 No. 36

Journals

  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)
  • Weir, A., 1997-98, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 8 p. 20
  • Weir, A., 1993-94, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 4 p. 13
  • 1991-92, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 2

Other

  • The Archaeological Practice, 1998, Low Cleughs Bastle, a documentary assessment
  • Ryder, P.F., 1991, Low Cleughs Bastle, Corsenside, Northumberland (Reproduced in Carlton and Ruchworth 2004)