Five shielings 620m NNE of Elsdonburn Shank

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014772

Date first listed: 24-Jul-1996

Map

Ordnance survey map of Five shielings 620m NNE of Elsdonburn Shank
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Kilham

National Park: NORTHUMBERLAND

National Grid Reference: NT 86414 29858

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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 shielings NNE of Elsdonburn Shank are reasonably well preserved and will retain significant archaeological deposits. They are part of a wider group of shielings found in the northern Cheviots built in similar locations on slightly raised ground adjacent to water.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes the remains of five medieval shielings situated on the lower slopes of a north facing spur below Elsdonburn Shank. The steep sided valley of a small stream lies immediately to the east. The shielings are all orientated NNW to SSE, with an entrance in the short north wall and no indication of any internal division. They are well defined and visible as the turf covered foundations of rectangular dry stone buildings. The most northerly shieling measures 9m by 6.5m with walls spread up to 1m wide which stand to a maximum height of 0.3m. The second shieling is situated 5.8m to the SSW and measures 6.5m by 5.5m with walls up to 1m wide which stand to a maximum height of 0.3m. The third shieling is situated 9.4m to the SSW and measures 7m by 6m with walls spread up to 1.5m wide which stand to a maximum height of 0.3m. The north wall has a clearly defined entrance 0.7m wide. The fourth shieling is situated 3.5m to the south and is almost horseshoe shaped; it measures 5.5m by 6m with walls spread up to 2m wide which stand to a maximum height of 0.2m. The fifth shieling is situated 4.7m to the west and measures 7m by 5.6m with walls spread up to 2.5m wide which stand to a maximum height of 0.2m. The north wall has a clearly defined entrance 0.9m wide.

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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 24643

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing