Prehistoric hut circle settlement, associated field system and a medieval shieling 2.35km south west of Great Dun Fell radio transmitting station


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021010

Date first listed: 06-Oct-2003


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric hut circle settlement, associated field system and a medieval shieling 2.35km south west of Great Dun Fell radio transmitting station
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Eden (District Authority)

Parish: Milburn

National Grid Reference: NY 69507 30349


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

Reasons for Designation

Stone hut circles and hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers. Most date from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). The stone- based round-houses consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; the remains of the turf, thatch or heather roofs are not preserved. The huts may occur singly or in small or large groups and may lie in the open or be enclosed by a bank of earth or stone. Frequently traces of their associated field systems may be found immediately around them. These may be indicated by areas of clearance cairns and/or the remains of field walls and other enclosures. The longevity of use of hut circle settlements and their relationship with other monument types provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

Irregular aggregate field systems are one of several methods of field layout known to have been employed from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c.2000 BC-AD400). They comprise a collection of field plots generally lacking conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields with sinuous outlines and varying shapes and sizes, bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches or fences. The settlements or farmsteads from which people utilised the fields are usually situated close to or within the field system. The majority of these field systems are thought to have been mainly for crop production although rotation may also have been practiced in a mixed farming economy. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long periods and can thus provide important information about developments in agricultural practices and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries.

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. The construction of herdsman's huts in a form distinctive from the normal dwelling houses of farms, only appears from the early medieval period onwards (about AD450), and their construction appears to cease at the end of the 16th century. Shielings have a simple sub-rectangular or ovoid plan normally defined by drystone walling. Most have a single undivided interior but two-roomed examples are known. They 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 help illustrate medieval land use in an area are considered to be nationally important.

The prehistoric hut circle settlement and associated field system 2.35km south west of Great Dun Fell radio transmitting station survives well. It represents evidence of long term management and exploitation of the landscape and indicates the importance of this area in prehistoric times. Additionally the medieval shieling survives well and will add to our knowledge and understanding of settlement patterns during the medieval period.


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


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of a prehistoric stone hut circle settlement and its associated field system and a medieval shieling, located on sloping ground on the south western slopes of Great Dun Fell, 2.35km south west of Great Dun Fell radio transmitting station.

The prehistoric stone hut circle settlement includes a sub-rectangular stone-walled enclosure with an entrance on its downslope, south western side. The enclosure is subdivided internally by low stone walls into one large and two smaller enclosures. Between the two smaller enclosures there is a circular platform measuring about 8m in diameter which is interpreted as a hut platform. A second, smaller hut is situated close by, adjacent to a kink in the western wall of the enclosure. Just outside the enclosure's entrance, adjacent to the western wall which continues beyond the enclosure and downslope for a short distance, there is a stone spread which may mark the location of another small hut circle. Further downslope the western stone wall connects with the wall of an oval-shaped enclosure measuring approximately 10m by 5m internally with an entrance on its upslope, north eastern side. Two small stone hut circles are located outside t enclosure, one on either side of its entrance.

The associated field system extends to the north, south and west of the hut circle settlement. It consists of a number of irregularly-shaped stone-walled fields, the interiors of which have been largely cleared of surface stone. The extreme western wall of the field system has a small irregularly-shaped enclosure on the outside of its northern end.

Within the field system, at NY69463034, there are the remains of a two-roomed stone-built medieval shieling measuring about 10m long by 5m wide. One of the gable ends of the shieling has fallen outwards en-masse leaving a triangular spread of stone. The presence of the medieval shieling testifies to the partial reuse of the earlier settlement.

All telegraph poles are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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: 35000

Legacy System: RSM


AP No. BAI 25, Cumbria SMR, Milburn Settlement Site, (1984)
AP No. BAI25, Cumbria SMR, Milburn Settlement Site, (1984)
SMR No. 3919, Cumbria SMR, Milburn Settlement Site, (1984)

End of official listing