Four medieval shielings on south bank of White Lyne overlooking confluence with Little Hare Grain


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016393

Date first listed: 22-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Four medieval shielings on south bank of White Lyne overlooking confluence with Little Hare Grain
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1016393 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 16-Jan-2019 at 08:47:11.


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

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle (District Authority)

Parish: Bewcastle

National Grid Reference: NY 57556 80530


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.

Despite some damage by afforestation, the four medieval shielings on the south bank of the White Lyne overlooking its confluence with Little Hare Grain survive reasonably well and are part of a larger group of shielings sited amongst the uplands and along the river valleys and tributaries of north east Cumbria which, taken together, will add to our knowledge and understanding of the wider border settlement and economy during the medieval period. Additionally this group of shielings is a rare example of different types of shielings occupying the same site, and as such will facilitate any further study of the developments in the construction of shielings throughout the medieval period.


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


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of a group of four stone built medieval shielings located on the south bank of White Lyne between 20m-55m north east of its confluence with Muckle Hare Grain. This group forms part of a larger group of 24 shielings strung out for approximately 800m along the valley floor of the White Lyne which were surveyed by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in 1970 prior to afforestation of the area. The most prominent and best preserved shieling in this group lies immediately south of a forestry track. It is a rectangular single-roomed shieling measuring 8.2m by 4.3m with its long axis aligned north east-south west and walls up to 1.7m high. There is an entrance on its south west side with a reused threshold stone. This shieling overlies the boulder footings of an earlier and slightly larger shieling which measures 9.3m by 4.5m. A short distance to the south west are the large boulder walls of a single-roomed circular shieling measuring 3.8m in diameter and 0.8m high. There is an entrance in the north east side of this shieling. Approximately 25m to the south west there is a rectangular shieling with rounded corners at its western end. It measures 6.4m by 3.5m with walls up to 0.6m high, and has its long axis aligned east-west. There is a paved entrance in the south side slightly to the east of centre. Documentary sources indicate that the Bewcastle Fells were first used by the Lords of Burgh on Solway in the 13th century to summer their cattle and build `shields and cabins'. This custom continued into the 17th century.

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: 27794

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 18-31
'Gentleman's Magazine' in Gentleman's Magazine, , Vol. XXIV, (1754), 505-6
Denton, J, 'C&WAAS Tract Ser' in Accompot of the Most Consid Estates & Families in Cumberland, , Vol. II, (1887), 146
Schofield,A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Shielings, (1989)

End of official listing