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Pressen; The Bastle

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NT83633585
Latitude 55.61582° Longitude -2.26140°

Pressen; The Bastle has been described as a certain Bastle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

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


The Bastle, Pressen. Grade II listed building. A fortified house, now used as a workshop. Probably 16th century. Walls c.4ft 6ins thick. Ground floor tunnel vault survives in part (Listed Building Report).
More a stronghouse than a bastle, as at Akeld (NT 92 NE 41). Measures c.20m by 8m (Pevsner).
Amongst the extensive farmbuildings at Pressen is a taller building locally known as Pressen Bastle. It appears to have escaped notice prior to the revision of the lists of listed buildings in the early 1980s. The first mention of a defensible building here is in 1584 by Christopher Dacre who marked Preswen as the site of a tower. From the 16th century onwards Pressen has been held by the Grey family.
The building, of rubble with sandstone dressings, measures 17.2m by 7.9m externally, with walls c.1.4m thick. The original doorway is sited east of centre in the north wall and has a rounded edge to jambs and lintel, with a relieving arch (blocked in recent brick) above. At the same level are a series of small square headed loops (a peculiarity being their jambs inclining slightly inwards) one to the east of the doorway and two to the west. Between the two western loops is another blocked doorway, which seems to be alter insertion. A third blocked door on the south has an alternating surround of tooled blocks, suggesting that it is no earlier than the later 18th century. The east end now contains a large modern opening, with above and to the north the remains of a blocked doorway with a timber lintel. At a higher level, in the centre of the gable, are the remains of a square headed window with a double chamfered surround, formerly of two lights but having lost both its mullion and sill. The gable has a raised coping with shaped kneelers. The lower part of the west end is hidden by farmbuildings, but in the gable there are remains of a similar window to that at the east end, here the gable coping looks as if it may have originally been crowstepped (compare Cornhill House).
Internally, the basement of the building has had a tunnel vault of roughly three-centred section, the apex being 3.85m above the modern floor. All that survives of this vault is a 1.6m length at the west end. The vault carries the remains of an axial partition wall, which is carried up above the modern timbers at wall-head level and would obstruct the gable window. Beneath the vault, but set quite high, is a bricked up window.
No other old features are visible internally. The vault was removed 'around 20 years ago'; prior to this there was an external stair at the east end, leading to the doorway with the timber lintel.
Although locally termed a 'bastle' this building is perhaps better termed a 'strong house'. Unfortunately the relatively recent alterations have erased evidence of the original internal arrangements of the building; there is no sign of any internal stair, yet the upper doorway in the east end does not look like an original feature (unless its timber lintel merely denotes a repair). The bricking up of the relieving arch of the north doorway suggests that his may have been 'open', possibly serving as a quenching hole (Ryder). (Northumberland HER)

Fortified house, known as 'The Bastle' and now used as a workshop. Probably C16. Random rubble with dressed stone quoins. 2 storeys. Rectangular c.60 x 25 ft. Blocked ground-floor doorway with alternating-block surround under relieving arch on long north side. On the same side two blocked small square windows. Steeply-pitched gabled roof with crow steps on west, reverse crow steps on east. 1st-floor entrance was originally on east gable (of Akeld Bastle), now replaced by C20 sliding door. In the gable a square-chamfered window, formerly with a mullion, rebated for shutters. Similar window in west gable. Later lean-tos on south side.
Interior: walls c. 4 ft. 6 inches thick. Only part of the ground floor tunnel vault remains. It is high and round. The eaves appear unaltered which suggests that the 1st floor had very low side walls. Roof timbers C19. (Listed Building Report)

Pressen and Duddo have areas between the door head and relieving arch which have been interpreted as ‘quenching holes’ against firing of the door in a siege but these are normally placed above a relieving arch and here could equally be interpreted as space for an inscription (at Duddo, as at Twizel) or ventilation for livestock (Pressen). (Kent 2016)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:27

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