Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Medieval shieling 100m west of Trout Beck

A Scheduled Monument in Lakes, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.4651 / 54°27'54"N

Longitude: -2.8921 / 2°53'31"W

OS Eastings: 342271.075

OS Northings: 508112.455

OS Grid: NY422081

Mapcode National: GBR 8J7T.N5

Mapcode Global: WH827.K109

Entry Name: Medieval shieling 100m west of Trout Beck

Scheduled Date: 10 November 1964

Last Amended: 21 January 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011135

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23628

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Lakes

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Troutbeck Jesus Church

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument is a medieval shieling located between two drumlins in the upper
reaches of the Troutbeck valley 100m west of Trout Beck. It includes a
rectangular two-roomed shieling measuring 12.8m by 5.2m externally. The
smaller southern room measures 3.2m by 2.7m internally and functioned as a
vestibule or store room. It has an entrance on its south side and a doorway
giving access into the larger northern room. The northern room was the main
living area and measures 8.1m by 3.1m internally. It has an entrance on its
west side close to the internal partition wall. All walls are of drystone
construction and survive as turf-covered banks up to 0.3m high.

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 foundations of the shieling 100m west of Trout Beck survive well, allowing
its full ground plan to be reconstructed. It will retain further evidence of
how the internal space was organised and used. It is one of a group of three
shielings in the upper reaches of the Troutbeck valley, each of which has a
different ground plan. Together the group provides evidence of the earliest
known occupation and exploitation of this part of the Troutbeck valley.
Further analysis of the three sites would provide information on any
chronological development of the transhumance system to which they relate and
also on any differences between the individual sites.

Source: Historic England


RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)
Schofield,A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Shielings, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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