Two medieval shielings on Akeld Hill, 680m WNW of Gleadscleugh


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018349

Date first listed: 13-Jun-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 18-Sep-1998


Ordnance survey map of Two medieval shielings on Akeld Hill, 680m WNW 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 94580 29277


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 on Akeld Hill survive in good condition and retain significant archaeological deposits. They will contribute to any study of settlement and land use during this period.


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


The monument includes remains of two medieval shielings, an enclosure and midden, situated on the east side of a neck of land between Akeld Hill and White Law. The enclosure is roughly `D'-shaped, measures 27m by 33m and is defined by banks up to 1m high. The entrance lies on the north side, marked by massive boulders, and gives access to a funnelled entrance 1.5m wide running east-west and faced with stone. The shielings lie to the south of the enclosure, are oval in plan and measure 9m by 6m and 11m by 6m. The smaller shieling is built against the edge of the enclosure and has an internal division. A smaller, circular feature, 3m in diameter, lies to the west of the shielings and is interpreted as a possible midden. Other earthwork remains of stock enclosures survive outside the area of protection to the south and west; these are not included in the scheduling as their extent, nature and date are not fully understood.

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: 31701

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing