Ancient Monuments

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Hazel Gill shieling

A Scheduled Monument in Askerton, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.0767 / 55°4'36"N

Longitude: -2.6071 / 2°36'25"W

OS Eastings: 361333.681911

OS Northings: 575969.45887

OS Grid: NY613759

Mapcode National: GBR B97Q.CY

Mapcode Global: WH90D.XNPJ

Entry Name: Hazel Gill shieling

Scheduled Date: 29 April 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014052

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25169

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Askerton

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 or post-medieval
date situated on the floor of the Hazel Gill valley. The shieling, orientated
east to west, is visible as the footings of a rectangular stone built
structure with maximum dimensions of 8m by 5m. When this shieling was visited
in the 1960s more detail could be distinguished than is possible today; it is
known to be divided into two rooms of equal size and its walls are on average
1.3m wide. This shieling was once part of a much larger grouping in this area
which formed part of the medieval barony of Gilsland. A document of 13th
century date indicates that the area was used for sheep pasture, and further
documents of the late 16th century describe a shielding system on the moor of
which this shieling formed a part.

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 Hazel Gill is reasonably well preserved and retains
significant archaeological deposits. It is one of a group of shielings in the
area 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

Source: Historic England

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