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