Doddington Bastle

Has been described as a Possible Tower House, and also as a Possible Bastle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameDoddington Bastle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishDoddington

McDowall and Mercer refer to the structure at Doddington as a large fortified building, not a bastle, although of the same rectangular form as bastles. This type of building probably represents the homes of men of higher social standing than the ordinary bastle-builder (Ramm, McDowall and Mercer 1970).

Doddington Bastle is a ruined strong house, 17.4m by 7.6m externally, of three storeys with a projecting turret containing the entrance and stair in the centre of the south front. It was built by Sir Thomas Grey of Chillingham. There was formerly a datestone, removed to Ewart Park. The building stood complete until 1896, when the eastern part collapsed in a gale. The fabric is of massive coursed blocks of roughly squared sandstone with galletting, with better cut angle quoins.

What survives today are the west end, perilously rent and close to collapse, the south and west walls of the stair turret and the lower part of the north wall. The west end has a large segmental arched fireplace at basement level and a square headed fireplace (its lintel broken and about to fall) to the first floor. At the head of the gable are fragments of two small windows lighting the attic and at the south west corner a short length of parapet, set slightly forward of the wall face below.

The turret has one jamb of the entrance doorway in its east wall, three chamfered loops on the south and hanging remains of a stone newel stair, the undersides of the treads being carefully shaped. The gable has a raised coping.

The north wall has obviously had a long history of structural problems and has been both thickened internally and strengthened externally by three big raking buttresses. It now stands to around first floor level. There is a blocked chamfered loop near its west end, only visible externally

The east end of the building has been completely removed, probably when adjacent farmbuildings were built (Ryder 1994-5).

Some repair and conservation work was carried out of the ruined remains during 2005 and 2006. This involved some recording work carried out by PF Ryder and the Architectural Survey team of English Heritage. A series of eight worked stones were retrieved from the rubble partly cleared from the interior of the building, included a series of chamfered window jambs. The bastle has undergone a number of changes since when recorded by Knowles in the later 19th century, as well as Ryder in the earlier 1990s (Ryder 2006). (Northumberland HER)

Ruined strong house. 1584 for Lord Grey. Very large roughly-dressed stone with dressed stone quoins and window surrounds. T-shaped. 3-storey main block with projecting 3-storey gabled stair tower.

Main block c.60 ft x 25 ft. West wall stands to full height, north wall to c.20 ft. Doorway formerly to right of stair tower.

Tower stands to full height and has 3 slit windows on south front.

Remains of parapet visible in south-west corner.

To rear 3 large buttresses and blocked door. 2 slit windows.

Interior of stair tower has remains of stone newel stair. Large blocked segmental arch to fireplace on ground floor. Further fireplace with flat lintel on 1st floor. (Listed Building Report)

Gatehouse Comments

This is an unusual building, but this type of building was known as a "bastle-house" it is of a greater social status and size than usual for bastles. It is of a later date than most pele towers and tower houses and of somewhat different design. However, it's apparent social and domestic function puts it somewhere between a pele tower and a tower house in terms of the definitions used in Gatehouse. Considering how unusual a building it is and how close to total loss of this building we were in 1896 there is remarkably little online about the building.

- 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 ReferenceNT998325
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Philip Davis. All Rights Reserved

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.

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  • Durham, Keith, 2008, Strongholds of the Border Reivers (Oxford: Osprey Fortress series 70) p. 35
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 79-81
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 43
  • Graham, Frank, 1993, Northumberian Castles Aln, Tweed and Till (Butler Publishing) p. 14-16
  • Pevsner, N., 1992 (revised by Grundy, John et al), Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 138
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 22, 29
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 358
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 132-4
  • Ramm, H.G., McDowall, R.W. and Mercer, E., 1970, Shielings and Bastles (London: HMSO) p. 61, 63 and 67
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 92
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles p. 81
  • Dodds, Madeleine Hope (ed), 1935, Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 14 p. 155-9
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)


  • 2007, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 17
  • SR., 2005, 'Agriculture aids Archaeology' Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 15 p. 19 (News report of conservation funding) download from Northumberland CC
  • 1993-94, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 4 p. 17
  • 1909, History of the Berwickshire Naturalist Club Vol. 21 p. 28-30 online copy
  • Knowles, W.H., 1899, 'The Bastle House at Doddington, Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 21 p. 293-301 online copy
  • 1899, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Vol. 8 p. 4-5, 18, 94, 111, 132 online copy (mainly on fall of wall)
  • Procter, Wm, 1872, 'Doddington' History of the Berwickshire Naturalist Club Vol. 6 p. 146-53 esp 151-52 online copy


  • Ryder, P.F., 2006, Doddington Bastle, Doddington, Northumberland: Archaeological Recording 2005/6. Unpublished PF Ryder report
  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 2 Berwick District p. 12-13