Ancient Monuments

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Two medieval shielings 30m north west of Stantling Loan on Greyfell Common

A Scheduled Monument in Bewcastle, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.1122 / 55°6'43"N

Longitude: -2.6194 / 2°37'9"W

OS Eastings: 360587.009797

OS Northings: 579929.593097

OS Grid: NY605799

Mapcode National: GBR B94B.Q7

Mapcode Global: WH906.QRWS

Entry Name: Two medieval shielings 30m north west of Stantling Loan on Greyfell Common

Scheduled Date: 22 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016402

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27788

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Bewcastle

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Bewcastle St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes two medieval shielings, one partly overlying the other,
30m north west of Stantling Loan on Greyfell Common. The earliest of the two
shielings is rectangular in plan and measures approximately 8.8m by 4.5m
externally with its long axis aligned north-south. Only its northern half is
now visible, the southern half being covered by the later shieling, and this
has boulder footings protruding through the covering vegetation. The later
shieling measures about 4.5m by 4m externally with drystone walls surviving up
to 0.9m high. There is an entrance on this later shieling's south side from an
adjoining rectangular annexe; this annexe measures approxiamately 3.6m by 3.2m
externally with drystone walls up to 0.3m high and has traces of an entrance
on its southern side. The shieling has latterly been used as a shooting butt.

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 two medieval shielings 30m north west of Stantling Loan survive reasonably
well and are part of a larger group of shielings sited amongst the uplands and
along the river valleys and tributaries of north east Cumbria which, taken
together, will add to our knowledge and understanding of the wider border
settlement and economy during the medieval period. Additionally the monument
is a rare example of successive medieval shielings occupying the same site,
and as such it will facilitate any further study of the developments in the
construction of shielings throughout the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 29
Schofield,A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Shielings, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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