Woolfe Kennel cave shieling at Kennel Crags
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Sep-2019 at 11:52:20.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- NY 63982 78414
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 cave shieling at Kennel Crags is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. It is a rare example of cave habitation at this time and will add to our knowledge and understanding of the wider Border settlement and economy during this period.
The monument includes a natural cavity formed by the slipping of a slab of
rock from the face of the crags downslope and utilised as a shieling in
medieval times. The habitable area measures 7m north west to south east by
2.5m and it is 1.7m high at its highest point. There is an entrance at the
eastern end which opens into a small porch at a higher level than the main
chamber. The southern limit of the main chamber was originally open, but low,
and has now been blocked by rough dry stone walling. The chamber is relatively
level with traces of paving slabs irregularly layed on an earth floor. Towards
the western end of the chamber larger boulders suggest the possible site of a
fireplace. Immediately above this fireplace there is a hole 0.5m square in
the roof of the chamber and it is thought that this may have been used as a
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 32
NY 67 NW 07,
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