Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

BYRES TOWERLB43534

Status: Designated

Documents

There are no additional online documents for this record.

Summary

Category
B
Date Added
12/08/1996
Local Authority
East Lothian
Planning Authority
East Lothian
Parish
Haddington
NGR
NT 49582 77016
Coordinates
349582, 677016

Description

16th century. Roofless 2-storey 2-bay structure in poor condition within large walled enclosure, with evidence of origins as small bastel house. Random rubble of sandstone and whinstone, heavy sandstone dressings with few remnants of tooling save simple rounded chamfers and cut angles. Roofless, originally gabled.

W (front) elevation has doorway to N flanked by single slit window, doorway to N also in first floor flanked by single square window opening. E elevation has single slit window only to ground floor with ruinous doorway and infilled window to first. N gable has tiny central windows to first floor. S gable also with single windows to first floor. Ground level on S gable incorporates unusual series of 8 stone "nestboxes" divided by stone slabs in 2 rows alternating with ratcourses, with tiny entrances to outside, mostly infilled to inside. Perhaps originally with wooden doors, these may have been beeboles or hencoups.

Iron hinges for doors/gates survive on W elevation. Interior of ground floor barrel-vaulted with vestiges of lime plaster, niche in wall by doorway (for lamps?). 1st floor retains fireplace in S gable, vestiges of lime plaster.

2 post-holes in external W wall at base of 1st floor door suggest original external wooden stair. Regular line of post-holes at same level on E elevation may suggest an earlier timber gallery construction.

WALLS: large square enclosure, of random rubble, patched, variable coping. Generally approx 3m high, lowered in places.

Statement of Special Interest

Bastel houses were stone-built, defensive farmhouses, a particular feature of the Border country of both Scotland and England, built in the 16th and early 17th centuries, for protection against attackers during an especially lawless and brutal period in the region?s history. They provided fireproof siege accommodation for livestock on the ground floor and for people on the floor above, reached originally only by an internal stair or external ladder. The roof is likely to have been slated or slabbed (as opposed to thatched) for additional fire protection.

The location of a bastel in East Lothian makes it rather an "outlier" to the main Border concentration, but it is relevant to note that several have been recently identified in the Clydesdale area even further from the Border, and the RCAHMS is already investigating a possible "discovery" in Lothian. Byres is a settlement site of some antiquity and importance, though detailed evidence seems sparse. The current farm steading states from 1800 and later, but incorporates a high ruinous gable of a much earlier structure, with contiguous high enclosure wall. There is local traditional of ecclesiastical associations, possibly with a North Berwick foundation.

"Bastel", "bastle", or "bassel", from the French "bastille" (small fortress) are various forms of the name and may be considered similar to, if not synonymous with, "pele", "peel" or "peel tower", a common Borders description, although the latter were originally wooden stockades (cf "pale") and later more akin to stone tower houses.

References

Bibliography

OS Map, Haddingtonshire, 1854; Clydesdale Bastle Project, THE ELUSIVE SCOTTISH BASTLE HOUSE, unpublished Report 1990; T Ward, "Bastle Houses of the Anglo-Scottish Borders", FORTRESS Issue 5; E Mercer "SHIELINGS AND BASTLES", RCHME (1970).

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

Images

There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to BYRES TOWER

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 15/05/2021 17:39