Ancient Monuments

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Two shielings below Crying Crag

A Scheduled Monument in Kingwater, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.0327 / 55°1'57"N

Longitude: -2.5667 / 2°34'0"W

OS Eastings: 363872.535296

OS Northings: 571056.53448

OS Grid: NY638710

Mapcode National: GBR BBJ7.3Q

Mapcode Global: WH90M.JRYQ

Entry Name: Two shielings below Crying Crag

Scheduled Date: 18 July 1974

Last Amended: 9 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011831

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25141

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 pair of shielings of medieval date,
situated at the foot of Crying Crag near the edge of the King Water burn. The
first shieling, orientated north to south, is visible as the footings of a
rectangular stone building measuring 8m by 4m. The walls are 1m wide and stand
to a maximum height of 0.5m. The second shieling is situated some 3m south of
the first and is also orientated north to south. It is less well preserved
than the first and survives as a raised stony platform 7.7m by 3m.
It is considered that these shielings may be of a relatively early date as
they are more denuded and lie parallel to the burn. These shielings form part
of a more extensive group in this area which is known to have formed part of
the summer pastures serving the permanent settlements of several local manors.

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 shielings at Crying Crag are reasonably well preserved. They are part of
a group of shielings situated 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), 27, 14

Source: Historic England

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