Medieval shieling and enclosure 340m north west of Gleadscleugh


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018024

Date first listed: 27-Apr-1998


Ordnance survey map of Medieval shieling and enclosure 340m north west of Gleadscleugh
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Akeld


National Grid Reference: NT 94956 29239


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 medieval shieling and enclosure north west of Gleadscleugh survive in reasonable condition and retain significant archaeological deposits. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the fact that the enclosure is thought to have its origins in the prehistoric period. It is part of a wider archaeological landscape of sites in the north Cheviots whose remains survive well and will contribute to any study of settlement and land use in the medieval period.


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


The monument includes remains of a medieval shieling and a surrounding enclosure, situated on the south facing slopes of Akeld Hill in a natural depression. The enclosure, approximately 70m by 47m, is roughly `U'-shaped in plan and orientated NNW-SSE, with the open end at the south, or downslope. It is defined by a low sinuous bank, slightly terraced into the hillslope along the northern edge and with occasional orthostats along its course; along the western edge the bank is slight but can be seen clearly on aerial photographs. The sinuous nature of the enclosure bank and inclusion of orthostats suggest that this enclosure is similar to others in the northern Cheviots which are believed to be prehistoric in date. Attached to the end of the eastern arm of the enclosure bank is a subsidiary enclosure 12m across and interpreted as an animal pen. The shieling is located in the southern third of the enclosure; it is rectangular in plan and measures 10m by 5m, with an entrance in the south side. The building is divided into two unequal compartments with walls standing up to 0.5m high; at the eastern end a semi-circular stone feature is attached.

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: 29346

Legacy System: RSM


3-Mar-1980, Gates, T, NT9429F University of Newcastle AP Collection, (1980)

End of official listing