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Longheughshields 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: NY82048473
Latitude 55.15668° Longitude -2.28337°

Longheughshields Bastle, Bellingham has been described as a probable Bastle.

There are masonry footings remains.


Footings of an earlier building may stand west of the shepherd's cottage at Longheughshields and could have been a bastle. Nothing of bastle character seen in ruins of a second cottage or ruinous walls nearby. 300m north west of cottage are more building footings - possibly medieval - but still nothing of bastle character (Ryder 1990). (Northumberland HER 7995)
Longheughshield is a simple, single-storey, late 18th century, shepherd's cottage, surrounded by old walls which give it a strange sense of enclosure. Just west of the cottage lie the footings of another, much earlier building, most likely a 16th or 17th century bastle on the strength of its general proportions and thickness of its walls. The highest section of walling stands about four feet high. (Grundy 1987). (Northumberland HER 14033)

Although only a half mile from the Bellingham to Kielder road this is most isolated spot.
There is one habitable cottage here and several ruined dwellings. A century go Longheughshields was a hamlet occupied by the men who worked the stone quarries which have pock-marked Longhaughsheil Crag to the north-east. The domestic the site was chosen because there is a little resonably level ground and a plentiful supply of water there, no doubt the same reasons why a summering sheppard build a bastle there in the sixteenth century. None of the ruins nor the cottage are bastles, but bastle-like stones are be seen incorporated in many of them. It appears that the old place was used as a supply of suitable building material when the quarrymen's homes were erected. (Dodds 1999)

On the edge of the moorland and the name certainly suggests use as a sheiling in the past. However, contrary to what Dodds writes, sheppards did not build bastles which were farmsteads of small mixed agriculture featuring cattle and some crops (most probably oats). However, in the C16-C17, despite rather worse climate than today (This was the period of the Little Ice Age) the area was more intensely farmed and this may have been the site of a small tenanted farmstead and a bastle (the relatively small fields around the cottage and the presence of a clearance cairn are suggestive of this). Like many such small farmstead it may have been 'cleared' in the C18 to become exclusively sheep pasture. The actual physical evidence for a bastle here is slight and it should be remembered that even in this area not all thick walled rectangular buildings were necessarily bastles (which need to be two storey high and should have a ground level used as byre).
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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