Ancient Monuments

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Medieval dyke system and shieling west of Shap Abbey

A Scheduled Monument in Shap Rural, Eden

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Latitude: 54.532 / 54°31'55"N

Longitude: -2.7102 / 2°42'36"W

OS Eastings: 354140.0535

OS Northings: 515428.4158

OS Grid: NY541154

Mapcode National: GBR 9JJ1.15

Mapcode Global: WH81Y.BCP0

Entry Name: Medieval dyke system and shieling west of Shap Abbey

Scheduled Date: 5 December 1973

Last Amended: 15 October 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011638

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22497

County: Eden

Civil Parish: Shap Rural

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Shap with Swindale St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument is a medieval dyke system together with a medieval shieling which
lies adjacent to it. The dyke system covers an extensive area to the west,
north-west and south-west of Shap Abbey. It is fragmented and hence the
monument is divided into 4 separate areas. Where the boundary remains visible
it takes the form of an earthen bank up to a maximum of 4.5m wide and 1.5m
high that is flanked by a ditch up to 1.3m wide on at least one and frequently
both sides. A length of the dyke south of Stone Howe has a double bank. A
single-roomed medieval shieling is situated adjacent to a section of the dyke
east of Stone Howe.
The dyke system is extensive and indicates the former existence of an area of
landholding associated with Shap Abbey that originally enclosed an area of
fellside west of the River Lowther.
All modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath them 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

Medieval linear boundaries comprise single or multiple bank and ditch systems
which stretch over distances varying between less than 1 kilometre to over 10
kilometres. The banks are constructed of earth or earth and stone, the earth
generally deriving from the ditch or ditches associated with the bank. These
linear boundaries were constructed during the Middle Ages and fulfilled a
variety of functions. Some run at high altitudes along contours and appear to
separate lower land used for cultivation from higher ground less intensively
used. Some are territorial, marking the land utilised by particular social
groups such as monastic landholdings. Others may serve to delineate land set
aside for certain functions such as deer parks; they are frequently associated
with other forms of contemporary field system. They provide important
information, occasionally confirmed by documentary sources, on social
organisation, land division and agricultural practice during medieval times.
The medieval dyke system west of Shap Abbey survives reasonably well despite
the disturbances which have obscured its original full extent. It forms an
extensive and complex system of medieval land division associated with the
abbey and will contribute to any study of the history of land use in the
marginal areas of this region. It will also contribute to an understanding of
the wider land holdings of the abbey.

Source: Historic England


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

Source: Historic England

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