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Rowantree Stob, Allendale

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Rowneterstowe; Rowndetreestob

In the civil parish of Allendale.
In the historic county of Northumberland.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.
Medieval County of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY839512
Latitude 54.85556° Longitude -2.25164°

Rowantree Stob, Allendale has been described as a probable Bastle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.


The house at Rowantree Stob derives from the bastle-building tradition of the late C16 and early C17. It has the usual arrangment of living space over a ground floor byre, but it has little emphasis on defence. Although it is now in ruins many original features are still visible. The oldest part of the building has a classic bastle doorway with a drawbar tunnel and two splayed slit vents, or narrow openings, but the walls themselves are only between 0.6m and 0.8m thick. Old documentary records show there was a building here in the mid C16; the present house may be a remodelling and partial rebuilding of this earlier building, which may have been a genuine bastle. (Keys to the Past)

Rowantree Stob (NY 839512) is now a ruin, on the west side of the East Allen valley 4.5 km south of Allendale Town. The house has a rather unusual site, tucked into the foot of the steeply-rising valley side, on the west bank of the Knockshield Burn a hundred metres or so above its confluence with the river. In the 1547 Survey of Hexham Manor it appears as 'Rowneterstowe', held by a tenant with the surname of Winter (N.C.H. 3, 72); in 1608 a Margarett Rowle held 'the Rowndetreestob' at a yearly rent of 3s. 4d. (ibid. 97).
The house is an interesting example of the example of the continuance of bastle-style features in a building that can never have been intended to be seriously defensible. The oldest part of the building is a rectangular block 8.7 by 6.3 m externally, built into the hillside so that the first floor can be entered from ground level on the south and west.
The basement doorway is set centrally in the east gable, and has an almost semicircular arch cut into a megalithic lintel, and jambs each made up of two large and one shallow blocks; there is a narrow continuous chamfer or head and jambs, and a drawbar tunnel in the north jamb. This is a classic bastle doorway, but the wall material — roughly-coursed and squared stone, and the thickness — only 0.61 m — are atypical. The side walls of the block, at around 0.80 m, are also a little thin for a true bastle although other features — the two splayed slit vents in the north wall, and the first floor carried on heavy close-set transverse beams — are in the bastle tradition.
The slope of the site means that the external first-floor doorway (now ruinous) on the south has probably always been entered from ground level. There are remains of windows to either side of the door; in the east gable are the remains of a central fireplace with a hooded stone stack, with to the south a chamfered single-light window and a mural cupboard. The attic above has been lit by two windows in the east gable, one south of the stack with a chamfered stone surround, and a small square one to the north with a timber-frame. The surviving section of the coping of the east gable is of stones laid at a rather uneasy angle which might suggest that they had been reused from a gable of steeper pich, although the remains of a fallen roof truss, of a simple principal rafter form with a collar point to a roof pitch of 45 degrees; both pitch and truss form are characteristic of a number of buildings in the area (e.g. Nine Dargue, Hayrake, Wooley Farmhouse).
There have been various secondary additions to the original house; a two-storeyed block on the north (again with a non-domestic ground floor), and small external building at the south-east corner and a small addition at the uphill (west) end. The first of these, which may be of early nineteenth-century date, is the only part of the group to remain roofed. The surviving east gable of the original building is now in a very precarious condition.
Whilst documentary references, and perhaps the choice of site (which can hardly have been made with defensibility in mind), show that there was a house on this site prior to the main bastle-building period, it is not clear whether the present structure is entirely a post-bastle building of the later seventeenth century, or a remodelling and partial rebuilding of a genuine bastle, perhaps reusing its byre doorway in a new east gable. (Ryder 1992)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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