Ancient Monuments

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Shieling 290m south west of Benty Sike

A Scheduled Monument in Henshaw, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.0463 / 55°2'46"N

Longitude: -2.4875 / 2°29'14"W

OS Eastings: 368949.877672

OS Northings: 572530.588452

OS Grid: NY689725

Mapcode National: GBR CB22.8V

Mapcode Global: WH90N.RFP8

Entry Name: Shieling 290m south west of Benty Sike

Scheduled Date: 7 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010030

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25133

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Henshaw

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Greenhead

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a shieling of medieval date situated on
the left bank of the River Irthing. The shieling is visible as the foundations
of a rectangular dry stone building measuring 5.5m east to west by 3m north to
south with indications of an entrance in its eastern side. The shieling is
abutted on its north east side by a large enclosure 14m square which is
considered to be a later feature, constructed when this shieling became
incorporated within the area of a permanent farmstead. This later feature is
not included in the scheduling.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 shieling near Benty Sike is reasonably well preserved and retains
significant archaeological deposits. It is one of a group of shielings along
the River Irthing and its tributaries, which taken together will add greatly
to our knowledge and understanding of the wider Border settlement and economy
during this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 33

Source: Historic England

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