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Hole Bastle, Bellingham

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NY86708466
Latitude 55.15616° Longitude -2.21022°

Hole Bastle, Bellingham has been described as a certain Bastle.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


Bastle house. C16. Long sides heightened and 1st floor windows added C18. Random rubble 4 ft thick with boulder plinth and stone slate roof. 2 storeys. 35 ft by 22 ft. Original ground-floor doorway now blocked on left return and later door inserted on right return. Slightly later stone outside stair to original 1st floor doorway with chamfered surround and rebates for harr-hung door. C18 windows to either side. 2 smaller original windows, re-set above are 16 by 18 inches and have chamfered surrounds with holes for 2 vertical iron bars. Similar window to rear and 2 slit windows on right return; also 5 pigeon holes above alighting ledge in right gable.
Interior has barrel-vaulted ground floor with narrow ladder-hole to 1st floor. Fireplace on 1st floor has timber lintel and square recess to right. Rustic wood stair to attic. (Listed Building Report)

The bastle at Hole Farm survives very well. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of other bastles in the vicinity. Taken together they will add to our knowledge and understanding of post medieval settlement.
The monument includes the remains of a bastle, a form of defended farmhouse, partially situated on a low knoll, overlooking the valley of the River Rede to the north, east and south. The bastle is rectangular in shape and measures 10.5m by 6.6m externally with walls of large unhewn stone 1.4m thick, the whole based on a projecting plinth. The bastle stands two storeys high; the walls are 10m to the eaves and 14m to the tops of the gables. The original square headed doorway into the ground floor basement is situated in the western gable and is visible from the adjoining farm building; the present entrance through the east wall is a later addition, but the slit window above is an original feature. The interior has a barrel vaulted ground floor with a ladder hole by which access was gained to the upper storey. The first floor was also reached by an external stone stair leading up to a platform surrounded by a parapet wall on the south wall of the bastle. The upper doorway is placed at the eastern end of the front wall; it has a chamfered stone surround and a drawbar tunnel. Two windows, one each side of the doorway, are 19th century additions but original windows are visible in the east wall and at the east end of the north wall. Inside the bastle at first floor level there are wall cupboards against each gable and a fireplace on the western side. A stone stair, in the south east corner, gives access to an attic storey. The attic has two square windows in the south wall and on the east gable there are five pigeon holes. The monument is a Grade II-star Listed Building. The bastle partly stands on a round cairn in which a Bronze Age stone coffin or cist was discovered in 1972. The cist is still in its original position 2.5m north of the north wall of the bastle. The cairn is 9m in diameter and protrudes from underneath the bastle at the north east and north west sides. (Scheduling Report)

A two-storey gabled stone building, with vaulted ground floor, and outside steps to the upper floor, set upon a rocky rise against an east hill slope, overlooking the River Rede valley to the north, east and south. It is a very fine example of a Bastle house, similar features in the district have been classified as of the 16th/17th century period. The building measures 7m x 10.5m, and is approx 10m high to the eaves, 14m high to the gable top (F1 ASP 03-JUL-1956)
Bastles show some variations, but on the whole they are remarkably uniform. The typical bastle is rectangular on plan with external dimensions c.35 x 25 feet. It is of two full storeys and has quite steeply pitched gables. The walls are built of stone in large blocks of irregular shape, the gaps between the blocks being packed with small stone chippings set in a weak mortar with very little lime, about 4 feet thick on the ground floor, thinning to c.3-1/2 feet at first floor level. The ground floor has a single narrow doorway set in the middle of one of the gable walls. There are no windows on this floor, only ventilation slits. The upper floor is entered by a doorway set towards one end of the long wall approached by an external stone stair which, not being bonded to the main wall is a replacement, probably of a movable ladder. No original bastle roof survives, all present roofs have slate covering, but it is clear that some, at least, were originally covered with thatch, presumably of heather.
Bastles are of interest in many ways: as fortified, or at least, defensible farmhouses peculiar to the Border country, and as the only farmhouses in the British Isles with only a few possible exceptions, which in one building accommodate animals on the ground floor and human beings above.
It has been suggested that these buildings date from the late 16th and early 17th century, supported partly by architectural evidence and partly by their relevance to the peculiar conditions along the Border at that time (F3 SA 08-JUN-1977). (PastScape)

Gatehouse was informed by the current tenant that the bastle was the coolest place on the farm in the summer and the warmest in the winter.
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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