Ancient Monuments

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Shieling settlement close to the mouth of Scale Beck

A Scheduled Monument in Buttermere, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.5464 / 54°32'47"N

Longitude: -3.3064 / 3°18'23"W

OS Eastings: 315586.668085

OS Northings: 517577.408188

OS Grid: NY155175

Mapcode National: GBR 5HBW.Z0

Mapcode Global: WH70B.5ZSK

Entry Name: Shieling settlement close to the mouth of Scale Beck

Scheduled Date: 3 October 1975

Last Amended: 10 December 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014735

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27674

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Buttermere

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Loweswater with Buttermere

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a medieval shieling settlement located on the fellside
close to the mouth of Scale Beck on the western side of Crummock Water. It
includes a group of five shielings of drystone construction, two of which are
associated with adjacent stone-built enclosures, together with a D-shaped
enclosure within which there is a small square outbuilding.
At the northern end of the site is a rectangular single-roomed shieling
measuring c.16m by 5m which lies adjacent to a sub-rectangular enclosure with
internal measurements of approximately 18m by 13m. There is an entrance to the
enclosure at its north east corner close to the shieling, and a length of
walling runs from the enclosure's south east corner and curves around the
eastern side of the shieling. A short distance to the south is a second
rectangular single-roomed shieling which measures c.11m by 5.5m, and some 50m
to the south west is a third single-roomed shieling measuring c.8m by 6m. To
the west of this latter shieling lies a D-shaped stone-walled enclosure
measuring a maximum of c.26m by 21m internally within which there are the low
walls of a small square stone outbuilding. Some 60m to the south west of this
enclosure, on the opposite side of a modern drystone wall, there is a
three-roomed shieling measuring c.14m by 6.5m which lies adjacent to a
sub-rectangular enclosure with internal measurements of c.25m by 20m. There is
an entrance to the enclosure at its north east corner, and lengths of walling
run southwards from the enclosure's south west and south east corners, the
latter terminating in a tumble of stones which may mark the site of another
shieling. Approximately 80m to the north east there is a fourth single-roomed
shieling measuring c.13.5m by 6.5m and close by is another tumble of stones
which may mark the site of a shieling. Elsewhere there are faint traces of
wall foundations, particularly on the north east side of the site and close to
the two streams which run through the site, but these are too fragmentary and
overgrown to interpret with any certainty at the present time.
The nature of the surviving remains suggests that the shieling settlement may
have been used over a considerable period of time, and that the range of
additional features such as enclosures and an outbuilding indicates that it
may have been occupied on a more permanent basis than is normal for sites of
this nature.
A modern drystone wall and sheepfold are excluded from the scheduling but the
ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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.

Despite the overgrown nature of the site caused by dense bracken cover, the
shieling settlement near the mouth of Scale Beck survives reasonably well and
remains largely unencumbered by modern development. It is a rare survival in
western Cumbria of a shieling settlement, it retains considerable detail of
the layout of the site, and it will provide further evidence for the
occupation and exploitation of this upland area during the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 35
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 20
Hay, T, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Buttermere Settlements, , Vol. XLV, (1945), 116-20
Size, N, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Click Mill at Buttermere and Buttermere Notes, , Vol. XXXVI, (1936), 194
Schofield, A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Shielings, (1989)
Schofield,A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Shielings, (1989)
Schofield,A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Shielings, (1989)
SMR No. 1220, Cumbria SMR, Settlement at Mouth of Scale Beck, (1987)
SMR No. 1220, Cumbria SMR, Settlement at Mouth of Scale Beck, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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