Medieval shieling 160m north west of Clough Fold
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1012651
Date first listed: 19-Jun-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
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)
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing