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Burnbank Bastle, Tarset

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NY79098757
Latitude 55.18186° Longitude -2.32970°

Burnbank Bastle, Tarset has been described as a probable Bastle, and also as a Pele Tower although is doubtful that it was such.

There are masonry footings remains.


Burnbank is situated between the Tarset and Tarbet Burns on a small gently sloping plateau with steep slopes on three sides and the fourth protected by a marsh separating it from a slightly higher part of the hillside. Across this fourth side runs a ditch and beside it lie the foundations of a range of buildings about 18'0" wide internally and terminating in the base of a square stone tower-like structure. The edge of the marsh nearest to the tower was embanked by a retaining wall, providing an approach to the plateau and at the same time holding up water in the marsh.
Except for a short continuation of this retaining wall the edges of the plateau are not protected but doubtless they were once protected by a stockade.
The remains seem to be those of one of those farms who populated Tynedale in the reign of Allexander III (1249-1286). After being destroyed in the Scots War the square building, probably the camera end of a typical manor house, may have been made into a small tower house. Without excavation it is difficult to say whether the place was inhabited till a small 17th cent farmhouse was built nearby, on the site now occupied by West Burnbank and its gardens (Dodds 1940).
Remains of a rectangular building, 18.0m long, 6.0m wide, reduced to a low bank of loose stones, turf covered. Three contiguous rectangular buildings extended from the east end, each measuring 4.0m long by 6.0m width, now similarily reduced to fragmentary banks. A broad ditch runs along the north side of the foundations, across the width of the promontory. Remains of the retaining wall are extant upon the S edge of the promontory (F1 ASP 09-JUL-56).
The Dodds family occupied a tower or bastle at Burnbank in the 16th and 17th centuries (Dodds 1999). (PastScape)

Madeleine Dodds appears to be suggesting a small pele tower but the archaeological field investigator of 1956 (ASP) describes a site rather more like a pele-house type bastle. Given the location and apparent social status of the site the later is more likely.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:28

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