Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Shieling 900m north east of Rotheryhaugh

A Scheduled Monument in Kingwater, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.0375 / 55°2'15"N

Longitude: -2.4974 / 2°29'50"W

OS Eastings: 368310.331

OS Northings: 571559.279

OS Grid: NY683715

Mapcode National: GBR CB05.3Z

Mapcode Global: WH90N.LNZ0

Entry Name: Shieling 900m north east of Rotheryhaugh

Scheduled Date: 12 March 1974

Last Amended: 2 November 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010033

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25136

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Kingwater

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Gilsland St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the remains of a shieling of medieval date situated on
level ground on the north bank of the River Irthing. The shieling is visible
as the foundations of a single-roomed rectangular dry stone building measuring
4.5m east to west by 3.7m. It is bounded by walls spread to 1.5m wide which
stand to a maximum height of 0.8m. There are indications of a doorway through
the north wall where two stone jambs, or upright stones are known to survive
either side of the doorway.
The fence line which crosses the monument at the south end is excluded from
the scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.

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 Rotheryhaugh is well preserved and retains significant
archaeological deposits. It is part of a larger 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), 28

Source: Historic England

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