Ancient Monuments

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Shieling 950m SSW of Mounthooly

A Scheduled Monument in Kirknewton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.4883 / 55°29'17"N

Longitude: -2.1929 / 2°11'34"W

OS Eastings: 387905.970831

OS Northings: 621627.308928

OS Grid: NT879216

Mapcode National: GBR F44Z.1F

Mapcode Global: WH9ZT.990Y

Entry Name: Shieling 950m SSW of Mounthooly

Scheduled Date: 20 May 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014495

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24640

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Kirknewton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Kirknewton St Gregory

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a shieling, of between 14th and 18th century date,
situated on the western floodplain of the College Burn at the foot of
the steep eastern slope of The Schil. The shieling survives as a low building
foundation covered with turf with the long axis running north east to south
The shieling is sub rectangular in shape and measures 8m by 5.75m. The walls
are spread to 2.5m wide and stand up to 0.5m high, there is an entrance 1m
wide defined by large boulders on the south east side. Attached to the north
east corner of the shieling is a platform c.2.65m square which may represent
some agricultural use such as a stack stand.

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 950m SSW of Mounthooly survives well and will retain significant
archaeological deposits. It is one of a discrete group of shielings clustered
at this point south of Mounthooly which, in turn, are part of a string of
shielings found along the bottom of the College Valley which are all built in
similar locations: on slightly raised ground adjacent to water. They form a
group of contemporary structures associated with medieval agriculture and will
contribute to the study of medieval and later settlements and land use in the

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Archaeology Section, Tyne, Wear Museums, , College Valley Survey: Mounthooly, (1994), 7

Source: Historic England

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