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Morrelhirst Bastle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Hirst; Hurst in Rothbury; Moryslehirst; Moreslehirst; Herst; Linn Kern

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

OS Map Grid Reference: NZ05779595
Latitude 55.25767° Longitude -1.91065°

Morrelhirst Bastle has been described as a certain Bastle.

There are masonry footings remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


The tower is known to have been at the Hurst. (?Morrelhirst - NZ 05859603). In a description of Rothbury Forest a century ago (c.1803) the so-called Forest was stated to be dotted over with 'Bastile buildings'. Not one of these strong houses remains at the present day (Dixon 1903).
NZ 05789594. The present buildings at Morrelhirst are quite modern, but 100m south west of the farmhouse and on the south bank of the Forest Burn are the foundations of a rectangular building. The dimensions are similar to the defended houses common in the region and which date from the late 16th/early 17th century. The foundation, which is oriented north west-south east is of a building measuring 11m x 7m. The north east wall, which is the most complete, is 1.2m thick with a maximum height of 0.6m and incorporates some fairly large stones. A gap in the north west wall was possibly the entrance. To the south east of the foundation the ground is disturbed with fragmentary banks visible in places, possibly indicating the sites of ancillary buildings or garths. The low sheltered siting was possibly intended for concealment rather than defence. Local enquiries revealed no significant field names. There is a local tradition that the foundation is that of a mill but there are no traces of a mill race or pond and the siting is generally unsuitable for such a feature (F1 EG 15-FEB-1957).
The remains of a probable bastle lie on the south bank of the Forest Burn, close to the junction with the Spylaw Burn. The grassed over ruin is of a rectangular building c.8.2m by 4.2m internally. The walls are now grassy humps except for the north east, which stands a course or two high and is 1.2m thick. A gap in the centre of the north west end may indicate the byre entrance. There are traces of a possible extension, c.6m long internally, at the south east end. The site is rather odd for a bastle, lying low and sheltered, on an island of land between the stream and a narrow strip of marshland at the foot of a steep slope. On a broader expanse of more level ground to the south east are some more pronounced, but irregular earthworks. It is not clear whether these represent the remains of other buildings and enclosures or are associated with the 19th century diversion of the Spylaw Burn when the railway was built (Ryder 1994-5). (Northumberland HER)

The bastle 150m south west of Morrelhirst survives in reasonable condition. The floor levels, entrance and wall bases are undisturbed and will retain significant archaeological deposits. The bastle will contribute to any study of settlement during the early post-medieval period.
The monument includes the remains of a 16th or 17th century bastle situated by the edge of a stream called Linn Kern. The bastle is visible as the lower courses of a rectangular building which measures 11m north west to south east by 7m. The north east wall is the best preserved, measuring 1.2m in width and standing up to 0.6m high, with several courses of stonework visible on the external face. A gap in the north west wall is interpreted as the byre entrance. (Scheduling Report)
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:50

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