About Shilla Hill
Shilla Hill Bastle is located west of Comb, on the Reivers Trail footpath 8 miles north-west of Bellingham.
A bastle house is a fortified, defensible, farmhouse peculiar to the border country between England and Scotland.
Bastles were homes and refuges for families from the frequent raids from both English and Scottish Reivers in the 14th - 17th centuries. They attacked mercilessly, usually at night, driving away stock and often killing inhabitants.The main raiding season ran through the early winter months, when the nights were longest and the cattle and horses fat from having spent the summer grazing. The numbers involved in a raid might range from a few dozen to organised campaigns involving up to three thousand riders. Particular family names are associated with this era including Armstrong, Elliott, Milburn and Turnbull.
Shilla Hill Bastle was a rectangular mid to late 16th century stone two storey defensible farmhouse. Standing on Shilla Hill and possibly called Starr Head when mentioned in 1552, it commands the upper valley of the Tarset Burn.
Bastle houses are generally two-storey buildings, with living accommodation on the first floor and shelter for cattle and sheep on the ground floor. The external steps provided access to the living accommodation above. There would also have been internal access to the living quarters by a ladder which could be drawn up if an attack happened.
There are a number of fortified houses and bastles in the area and the Tarset Bastle Trail guides visitors around them. (http://www.tarset.co.uk/visiting/bastletrail.cfm). Black Middens Bastle House is well preserved and lies just across the Tarset burn. There is an interpretation board there too and it offers good parking.