Group of eight shielings and a track on Crossthwaite Scars 675m north west of Park End


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019454

Date first listed: 11-Oct-2000


Ordnance survey map of Group of eight shielings and a track on Crossthwaite Scars 675m north west of Park End
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Holwick

National Grid Reference: NY 91924 25984


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.

This group of shielings and the associated track survive well and will add to the sum of knowledge relating to medieval land use in the North Pennines. They form part of a well-preserved medieval landscape in the Holwick area which includes other shieling groups on the scar, medieval settlement and field systems.


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


The monument includes a group of shielings and an associated track on Crossthwaite Scars, Holwick. The group of shielings consists of the remains of eight buildings occupying natural platforms in the north east face of Crossthwaite Scar. The track is visible as a substantial pony track on the lower ground and zig-zagging up the steep slope to the shielings. On the lower platform are two long buildings almost parallel and close together, and a shorter one a few metres west. The most easterly building measures 20m by 5m and is divided internally into three rooms, only one room having a visible entrance. The rooms are not apparently connected internally. The second building measures 16m by 4m and is divided internally into two rooms each having an entrance but no interconnecting doorways. The roughly-coursed flat whinstone walls of these two buildings survive to 0.7m and 1m high and are 1m thick. The third building in this area measures 5.5m by 5m and its walls survive to 1m high and are 0.8m thick. Slightly to the south west and on higher natural platforms are the remains of five more buildings. The most northerly measures 11.5m by 4m and survives to a height of 1.2m; the walls are 0.7m thick. The building is divided internally into two or three rooms, the most northerly being obscured by rubble. There is an entrance in the south gable but no interconnection between rooms. A few metres south of the latter building is a wider subrectangular building orientated at right angles to the previous building, with a yard or garth on its east. The building measures 11m by 7m, and its whinstone walls are up to 3m thick and survive to a height of 0.6m. The garth measures 11m by 6.5m and its walls are 2m thick and 0.6m high. The next building to the south east measures 10m by 4m and has only one room. The walls survive to a height of 0.8m and 0.7m thick and are of coursed whinstone rubble. Slightly to the south east are the remains of two more buildings. One measures 8.5m by 5m and survives to a height of 0.7m, the walls being 1m thick. The second building is subrectangular measuring 7m by 5m, with a smaller 3m square section on its south west end. There is no apparent interconnection between the two parts of the building. The walls of the larger section survive to 1.2m high and are 0.7m thick. Those of the smaller are 0.3m high and 0.6m thick. These last two buildings are suffering from rabbit burrowing, probably because the soil is deeper here than further down the slope. This group of shielings is very similar to the slightly smaller group on Holwick Scar, further west (SM 34353), and a group west of Hungry Hall (SM 34357). All these buildings are interpreted as shielings. The modern vermin fence is excluded from the monument, although the ground beneath it is included.

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: 34352

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Coggins, D, 'Upper Teesdale the archaeology of a North Pennine Valley' in Upper Teesdale The Archaeology Of A North Pennine Valley, , Vol. 150, (1986), 121

End of official listing