Rebellion House, High Callerton

Has been described as a Certain Bastle, and also as a Certain Pele Tower

There are major building remains

NameRebellion House, High Callerton
Alternative NamesGreat Callerton; Callerton Valence; Cromwell House
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishPonteland

House. C16, altered early C17. Random rubble with walls 4 ft. thick. Welsh slate roof. 2 storeys, 3 irregular bays. C20 panelled door in C17 Tudor-arched surround with hoodmould. To left a small 2-light double.-chamfered window with hoodmould. To right a similar C20 window. Small C20 window above. Gabled roof with renewed end stacks.

Original 1st-floor doorway, now a window, on left return; right of it a gun loop with internal splay.

South (garden) side has two C20 mullioned windows, also a ventilation slit. On first floor 3 small windows in old openings with old wood lintels.

Interior: on ground floor large C17 fireplace with finely moulded surround, the lintel supported on moulded corbels. Old beams.

On 1st floor: huge C16 fireplace with old wood lintel on very large, rough, rounded corbels; relieving arch over. Left of this the old wood lintel of the 1st-floor doorway, and the splayed gun loop. 2-bay upper-cruck roof with collar beams, saddles and double ridge pieces.

The house was probably a C16 bastlehouse with accommodation extended to the ground floor in the early-mid C17.

It has a traditional association with Cromwell who is said to have stayed here. (Listed Building Report)

NZ 162 705 Peel tower at High Callerton (McDowall 1965).

NZ 16157049. The structure, at present being modernised, appears to be a bastle rather than the remains of a tower (F1 DS 01-FEB-1968).

Rebellion House is probably the oldest building in High Callerton hamlet. Its name derives from a tradition that during the Civil War there was fighting in the neighbourhood and Oliver Cromwell took refuge in the cottage, then a carter's dwelling. The house is a simple rectangle in plan, 10.7m by 6.8m, with walls c.1m thick of roughly-coursed rubble (rather larger on the south than the north) with large roughly-squared angle quoins; a boulder plinth is exposed in parts

The original ground floor doorway is set east of centre in the north wall and has its head cut to a three-centred arch within a square frame, with sunk spandrels and a hoodmould with turned back ends. The jambs, of brown sandstone, are simply chamfered; the moulded head and hoodmould are in a quite different pinkish/grey stone and appear secondary; the same pinkish/grey stone is used for a two-light mullioned window with a recessed and chamfered frame and a hoodmould like that of the doorway. West of the door is a 20th century copy of this window, in tooled ashlar, set within the blocking of a wider cart entrance. At first floor level is a single small window of no great age. There are no ground floor openings in the east end of the house, but at first floor level is an original square-headed doorway, set slightly north of centre, now serving as a window. The jambs and lintel appear to have been left square, although now badly worn; the extrados of the lintel is cut to a shallow gable. To the north of the doorway is an original splayed loop. There is an original basement loop near the west end of the south wall and a small modern window near the east end seems to incorporate the eastern jamb of a second; between these are a modern door and window. The three modern openings each have shaped lintels modelled on that of the first floor doorway. At first floor level are three windows: the westernmost, quite low, has a timber lintel and weathered upright blocks forming the jambs suggests that it may be original; the central window has similar jambs, but has been heightened to eaves level; and the eastern window, also heightened, has had a frame of larger squared blocks and might be of 18th century date.

The west end of the building has no openings today; there are traces of a possible blocked central loop at first floor level.

Neither of the present chimney stacks are of any age above roof level. Internally, there are a number of features of interest. The basement is spanned by transverse beams of varying scantling; some may be original, but they may have been re-set. The fireplace at the west end is of 17th century date (probably coeval with the doorhead and the two-light window) and has a lintel set forward on curved corbels - corbels and lintel having a wave moulding. The present internal stair is modern. At first floor level, to the south of the former doorway in the east end, is a large fireplace with a cambered timber lintel carried on heavy curved corbels. The longitudinal roof timbers (renewed) are carried by two upper-cruck trusses with slightly curved blades. Tie beams at eaves level have been replaced by modern beams set a little higher, but there are purlin ties above, halved to fit around the blade (there is no cut into the blade) and secured by oak pegs. The blades terminate in a saddle, now carrying two recent ridge pieces. The roof appears to have been raised in the relatively recent past. A bastle at High Callerton (presumably Rebellion House) is listed by Dixon as 'complete but rebuilt', with the note that it was omitted from McDowell on typological grounds. Although altered (primarily c.1950 according to local enquiry) it can hardly be described as 'rebuilt' and is a conventional bastle in all respects except for its door positions. The usual gable end position of the byre door and side wall position of the upper door are reversed. Otherwise it is a well-preserved bastle; an especially important survival is its first floor fireplace which is presumably an original feature (Ryder 1994-5).

A building assessment in 2006-7 described the house and its features. The first floor fireplace was identified of the highest significance and, in its size, style and completeness, is considered a unique survival of the bastle period. Among the most important featrues are its 16th century external walls, parts of which have been lost to 19th and 20th century alterations (Grundy 2007).

Archaeological works were carried out by The Archaeological Practice between September 2010 and June 2011 during the works associated with the repair, renovation and extension of Rebellion House at High Callerton, within Ponteland parish. The house is a typical late 16th or early 17th centruy bastle house, with slightly unusual arrangements. Some original features of the building survive - such as a ground floor fireplace. The building has undergone a number of changes since construction - including the creation and blocking of a cart entrance, insertion of several windows, partitions and a doorway. No significant archaeological material were found from the the groundworks of the bastle. The building has undergone a series of changes which include a mid- to late 20th century glazed door and series of insertions. Some of these later alterations, including first-floor partitions, have been removed during the recent conversion work (Rushworth 2012). (Northumberland HER)

Rebellion House contains many features which establish it as a characteristic bastle, or defensible farmhouse, of the late 16th or early 17th century. Its precise construction date s unknown, but it is almost certainly the oldest building in the hamlet of High Callerton, and is significant regionally, because it is an example of a bastle far from the uplands and close to the urban fringe of Newcastle, and nationally because it is one of a small, distinct and quite unique group of such structures in the Border counties.

Although altered, Rebellion House is a conventional bastle in all respects except for its door positions, the usual gable-end position of byre door and side-wall position of upper door being reversed; its most notable feature is its first-floor fireplace. The house was probably remodelled for ground floor occupation in the 1660s or 1670s, but subsequently re-adapted as a farm building when a large cart entrance was inserted in the north. This was blocked up when the house was remodelled yet again around the middle of the 20th century, when many structural changes were implemented.

Groundworks internally and externally to the rear of the bastle revealed little of note and few, if any, finds of pottery or other artifacts predating the mid-19th century. Clearance of the floor of the bastle revealed a rough sandstone floor, derived from crushed loose stones or bedrock, while excavations to the rear revealed bedrock at depths between 0.2-1.1m, which, especially in the north part of the site sat directly below topsoil, suggesting fairly recent quarrying activity contemporary with and/or after the date of construction of the bastle.

It is concluded that all the significant structural details of the bastle were preserved during its renovation and that no significant archaeological remains were disturbed by foundation trenching for a new build to the rear, or during associated landscaping and service trenching works. (The Archaeological Practice website)

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 ReferenceNZ161704
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  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 275-6
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. lxviii (doubtful)


  • Christopherson, R., 2011, 'Northumberland bastles: origin and distribution' Medieval Settlement Research Vol. 26 p. 21-33 (listed in appendix)
  • Dixon, P.W., 1972, 'Shielings and bastles: a reconsideration of some problems' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 50 p. 249-58


  • Rushworth, A., 2012, Rebellion House, Callerton, Northumberland: historic building record and watching brief, unpublidhed report by The Archaerological Practice
  • Grundy, J., 2007, Rebellion House, High Callerton, Northumberland. Standing building assessment (unpublished)
  • Ryder, P.F., 1994-5, Towers and Bastles in Northumberland Part 3 Castle Morpeth District p. 43-4
  • McDowall, R.W., 1965, Peels and Bastles of Northumberland (R.C.H.M. Typescript)