Isaac’s Byre is thought to have been a bastle house (or fortified farmhouse), which was used during the time of the Border Reivers. It has been verified by archaeologists that Isaacs Byre is the earliest surviving house (c. C16th) to have been built in the small hamlet of Loaning Head. When inside it is possible to see the original doorway and fireplace (both now blocked off). You can find out more about bastle houses at Epiacum
The cottage was purchased by Rob and Judith-Ann Wardlaw in 1994, and they renovated it to the high quality eco-friendly cottage it is today. In 1994 it was a derelict building suitable only as a coal store and shed. The Wardlaws obtained planning permission in 2002 to convert a farm building into a cottage. It was only after a visit from archaeologists that they discovered that it had originally been a dwelling.
The building was used by Isaac Lee before it was sold in 1970s to a family from the North East who converted the main house back into a dwelling but left the old byre as a store. Isaac farmed here for many years and used the byre as a milking parlour. The area that is now the open plan kitchen/living room was where the cows were milked and in Winter the cows were housed in the main part of the cottage. It was decided to name the cottage after Isaac Lee with the blessing of his daughter.
We have an old newspaper article which describes how the writer W.J. Palmer came across Loaning Head during his travels in 1882. It shows a drawing of how W.J. Palmer portrayed the interior of a cottage at Loaning Head. One of the cottages at Loaning Head was being sold by Hudson’s Agents for £21,500 which prompted the writing of the article.
We hope to have photographs showing the progress of the conversion of the byre back into living accommodation available on the website in the future.