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Black Middens Bastle House

Black Middens Bastle House lies about 7miles (11 km) northwest of Bellingham, Northumberland. It is a 16th century two storey fortified farmhouse with stone walls, built as a defensive structure to protect against border reivers. It is of a type distinctive to the troubled 16th century Anglo-Scottish borders. The living quarters were only accessible at first floor level.

The ground floor only had narrow ventilation slits and in the eastern gable wall is the original square headed entrance into the byre but this is now blocked with masonry. There are two later doorways in the south wall, which were inserted when the ground floor was divided by a partition wall. Access to the upper floor was originally by ladder, now replaced by external stone steps and the entrance door was secured by a drawbar.

The floor of the living quarters, was of stone slabs supported on heavy timber beams and a small hatchway gave internal access to the byre. In 1583 Black Middens was raided by the Scottish Armstrong family and nearby are the ruins of another bastle and an 18th century farmhouse. The thick walls of roughly squared large stone blocks, laid irregularly, provided first floor living accommodation and ground floor shelter for their livestock. Occupied by middle-rank farmers, clusters of bastles could give support from cross-border reivers.

Black Middens Bastle House is set in splendid walking country, on the Reivers Route cycle trail. There is a small car park and access across a field to the bastle. Visitors can walk around the outside and go up the steps to a first floor viewing platform on the inside of the building.

Please note: Dogs on leads are welcome.


Bellingham, Northumberland NE48 1NE

Sat Nav:

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Road Access:

180 metres N of minor road, 7 miles NW of Bellingham; or along aminor road from A68

Bicycle Access:

Find this site on the National Cycle Network

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Black Middens Bastle House