Medieval shieling 160m north west of Clough Fold


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1012651

Date first listed: 19-Jun-1995


Ordnance survey map of Medieval shieling 160m north west of Clough Fold
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Allerdale (District Authority)

Parish: St. John's Castlerigg and Wythburn

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: NY 33142 23613

Reasons for Designation

Shielings are small seasonally occupied huts which were built to provide shelter for herdsmen who tended animals grazing summer pasture on upland or marshland. These huts reflect a system called transhumance, whereby stock was moved in spring from lowland pasture around the permanently occupied farms to communal upland grazing during the warmer summer months. Settlement patterns reflecting transhumance are known from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) onwards. However, the construction of herdsmen's huts in a form distinctive from the normal dwelling houses of farms, only appears from the early medieval period onwards (from AD 450), when the practice of transhumance is also known from documentary sources and, notably, place-name studies. Their construction appears to cease at the end of the 16th century. Shielings vary in size but are commonly small and may occur singly or in groups. They have a simple sub- rectangular or ovoid plan normally defined by drystone walling, although occasional turf-built structures are known, and the huts are sometimes surrounded by a ditch. Most examples have a single undivided interior but two roomed examples are known. Some examples have adjacent ancillary structures, such as pens, and may be associated with a midden. Some are also contained within a small ovoid enclosure. Shielings are reasonably common in the uplands but frequently represent the only evidence for medieval settlement and farming practice here. Those examples which survive well and which help illustrate medieval land use in an area are considered to be nationally important.

The foundations of the shieling 160m north west of Clough Fold survive well, allowing its full ground plan to be reconstructed. It is one of a group of ten shielings in the vicinity, some of which have different ground plans. Some have external structures, and some are located in pairs. Together they provide evidence of the occupation and exploitation of this upland area during the medieval period. Further analysis of these sites would provide information on any chronological development of the transhumance system to which they relate and also on any differences between the individual shielings.


The monument includes a medieval shieling located on St John's Common 160m north west of Clough Fold and a short distance south of the Old Coach Road. It is a single-roomed shieling measuring 11.7m by 7m externally, with walls of drystone construction surviving up to 0.5m high. There are traces of a narrow ditch up to 0.5m wide and 0.1m deep around three sides of the shieling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 23789

Legacy System: RSM


Schofield,A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Shielings, (1989)

End of official listing