Two medieval shielings 30m north west of Stantling Loan on Greyfell Common


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016402

Date first listed: 22-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Two medieval shielings 30m north west of Stantling Loan on Greyfell Common
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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 60587 79930


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 two medieval shielings 30m north west of Stantling Loan 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 the monument is a rare example of successive medieval shielings occupying the same site, and as such it 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 two medieval shielings, one partly overlying the other, 30m north west of Stantling Loan on Greyfell Common. The earliest of the two shielings is rectangular in plan and measures approximately 8.8m by 4.5m externally with its long axis aligned north-south. Only its northern half is now visible, the southern half being covered by the later shieling, and this has boulder footings protruding through the covering vegetation. The later shieling measures about 4.5m by 4m externally with drystone walls surviving up to 0.9m high. There is an entrance on this later shieling's south side from an adjoining rectangular annexe; this annexe measures approxiamately 3.6m by 3.2m externally with drystone walls up to 0.3m high and has traces of an entrance on its southern side. The shieling has latterly been used as a shooting butt.

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: 27788

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 29
Schofield,A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Shielings, (1989)

End of official listing