Ancient Monuments

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Two medieval shielings 210m north west of Clough Fold

A Scheduled Monument in St John's Castlerigg and Wythburn, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.6038 / 54°36'13"N

Longitude: -3.0368 / 3°2'12"W

OS Eastings: 333122.521217

OS Northings: 523669.372218

OS Grid: NY331236

Mapcode National: GBR 7H76.BG

Mapcode Global: WH81D.BK41

Entry Name: Two medieval shielings 210m north west of Clough Fold

Scheduled Date: 19 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012650

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23788

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: St John's Castlerigg and Wythburn

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: St John's in the Vale and Wythburn

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes two medieval shielings located on St John's Common 210m
north west of Clough Fold and immediately south of the Old Coach Road. The
eastern shieling is a rectangular single-roomed structure measuring 9.7m by
8.5m externally with drystone walls up to 1m high. The western shieling is a
rectangular two-roomed structure measuring 11.2m by 5.9m externally with a
doorway in its northern wall close to the north west corner. All walls are of
drystone construction and survive up to 0.5m 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 two shielings 210m north west of Clough Fold survive
well, allowing the full ground plan of these monuments to be reconstructed.
They are part of a group of ten shielings in the vicinity; some of which have
different ground plans. Some have external structures, and some are located in
pairs. Together they provide evidence of the occupation and exploitation of
this upland area during the medieval period. Further analysis of these sites
would provide information on any chronological development of the transhumance
system to which they relate and also on any differences between the individual

Source: Historic England


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

Source: Historic England

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