Ancient Monuments

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Medieval shieling on Greyfell Common 310m north west of Stantling Loan

A Scheduled Monument in Bewcastle, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.1139 / 55°6'49"N

Longitude: -2.6228 / 2°37'22"W

OS Eastings: 360369.237844

OS Northings: 580117.035095

OS Grid: NY603801

Mapcode National: GBR B939.ZM

Mapcode Global: WH906.PQ7H

Entry Name: Medieval shieling on Greyfell Common 310m north west of Stantling Loan

Scheduled Date: 22 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016403

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27789

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 a medieval shieling located on Greyfell Common 310m
north west of Stantling Loan. It is a rectangular two-roomed passage hut
which measures 7.6m by 3.8m externally with walls of drystone construction
standing up to 1.1m high. The shieling is aligned north east-south west and
has an entrance in the south east side which faces down the valley. This
doorway still retains a threshold slab and two upright stones for door jambs,
and leads into a passage which is divided from a small room to the right and a
larger room to the left by upright slab partitions. A hearth was located on
the north west side of the larger room. In front of the shieling a short
length of paved path leads to the door, and there are also remains of a paved
area protected by a stone wall on the south west side which is interpreted as
having acted as a wind-break. Abutting the shieling's south west side is a
rectangular annexe measuring approximately 3.4m by 2.9m externally with an
entrance in the south east side. The monument has been constructed on a
levelled platform of stone rubble dug into the hillslope.

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 medieval shieling 310m north west of Stantling Loan survives well and is
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.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 17-18
Schofield,A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Shielings, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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