Group of shielings, 100m north of Tinkler Crags


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017732

Date first listed: 31-Mar-1994

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Feb-1998


Ordnance survey map of Group of shielings, 100m north of Tinkler Crags
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Jan-2019 at 10:29:33.


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

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle (District Authority)

Parish: Kingwater

National Grid Reference: NY 63458 71498


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 100m north of Tinkler Crags are well preserved and retain significant archaeological deposits. They are part of a wider group of shielings situated along the River Irthing and its tributaries which, taken together, will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the wider Border settlement and economy during this period.


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


The monument includes the remains of a group of at least 12 shielings, situated on flat land within a meander of the steep-sided King Water Burn. The shielings range in date from medieval through to post-medieval and a variety of forms are visible. Documents record the name `Kingeschales' in 1292 and in 1346 and this is thought to be a reference to the many shielings scattered along the King Water Valley. Three main groups of shielings representing three main phases of use are visible at the monument. The first phase is represented by a group of six shielings all of which are orientated with their long axis parallel to the burn. They are also relatively short in length, ranging between 5.7m to 6.1m. Five of this group of six shielings are visible as slight rectangular platforms, while the sixth, situated at the extreme southern edge of the monument, is visible as a stony platform standing 0.3m high. The second phase is represented by a group of four well preserved shielings, visible as rectangular buildings with walls standing on average to a height of 0.5m. All of the shielings in this group lie at right angles to the burn. They range in length from 7.4m to 9.5m and all have a short annexe attached to their eastern or western ends; the most northerly of this group has an annexe attached to both ends. These shielings are also all divided into two rooms by an internal stone wall and three of the four have an entrance through their south wall. Two of the shielings in this group clearly overlie two shielings of the first phase. The third phase at the monument is represented by a single building; it is square in shape with a narrow passage along its eastern side; buildings of similar form elsewhere in the region are thought to be relatively late post-medieval in date. At the northern end of the monument, a circular sheepfold of 19th century date partially overlies two of the shielings. These shielings are part of a larger group of shielings in the area which is known to have formed part of the extensive summer pastures serving the permanent settlements of several local manors.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 28571

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 12-14

End of official listing