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Ten medieval shielings on north bank of White Lyne overlooking confluence with Little Hare Grain

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Ten medieval shielings on north bank of White Lyne overlooking confluence with Little Hare Grain

List entry Number: 1016404

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Bewcastle

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 17-Jan-1972

Date of most recent amendment: 22-Dec-1997

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 27790

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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 ten medieval shielings on the north 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.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of a group of ten closely spaced stone built medieval shielings which are located on an area of boulder strewn flat ground on the north bank of the White Lyne overlooking its confluence with Little 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 of ten measures 8.5m by 4.1m with its long axis aligned east-west and walls up of 1.75 high. It is divided into two unequal-sized rooms; the main entrance is at the shieling's north west corner and leads into the larger room which is paved at the entrance. The smaller room has a raised flagged floor, is entered through a doorway from the larger room, and was lit by a small window in the south wall. A low fibrous mound outside the hut to the south east and along the south wall is a fallen remnant of the turf roof. This shieling and a rectangular enclosure on its north side, the north wall of the former being common to both, have latterly been used as a sheepfold. The enclosure stands on the boulder footings of an earlier shieling which measured 8.4m by 4.1m with its long axis aligned east-west, and which was robbed to build the later shieling. Approximately 14m ENE of the well preserved shieling are the boulder footings of a rectangular shieling measuring 9m by 4m with its long axis aligned east- west and an entrance in its north side to the west of centre. Some 14.5m south east of the well preserved shieling, at the edge of a low natural ridge, are the boulder footings of a rectangular shieling measuring 8.2m by 4.6m with its long axis aligned north east-south west and an entrance in its south east side to the west of centre. Approximately 25m south east of the well preserved shieling are the large boulder footings of a rectangular two roomed shieling measuring 9.8m by 4.5m with its long axis aligned east-west and an entrance on the northern side. Ten metres to the south of the well preserved shieling are the boulder footings of a one roomed small squarish shieling measuring 6.1m by 5.5m with walls up to 1.5m thick and an entrance at the south west corner. Approximately 23m south of the well preserved shieling are the heather covered footings of an almost circular one roomed shieling measuring 5.5m by 5.2m with an entrance on the south west side. Immediately to the west of this shieling are the heather covered remains of the northern half of a one roomed shieling measuring 4.6m wide with walls 1.1m wide formed of a boulder outer face, upright slabs to the inner face and rubble infill. Some 24m ESE of the well preserved shieling are the heather covered footings of a rectangular shieling measuring 9.4m by 4.7m with its long axis aligned east-west and an entrance in the south side west of centre. Approximately 66m ESE of the well preserved shieling are the boulder walls of a one roomed small squarish shieling measuring 5.4m by 4.6m with walls up to 1.1m wide and 0.8m high and an entrance on its north eastern side. 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. Although none of the shielings here was occupied in 1754, documentary sources indicate there had been seasonal occupation in the neighbourhood at that time and this may account for the presence and relative sophistication of the well preserved 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.

Selected Sources

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

National Grid Reference: NY 57458 80493

Map

Map
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End of official listing