Ancient Monuments

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Medieval shieling on south bank of White Lyne 230m WSW of confluence with Little Hare Grain

A Scheduled Monument in Bewcastle, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.1162 / 55°6'58"N

Longitude: -2.6708 / 2°40'14"W

OS Eastings: 357309.221221

OS Northings: 580406.131504

OS Grid: NY573804

Mapcode National: GBR 99S8.KS

Mapcode Global: WH7Z1.YNCQ

Entry Name: Medieval shieling on south bank of White Lyne 230m WSW of confluence with Little Hare Grain

Scheduled Date: 22 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016406

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27792

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 the upstanding and buried remains of a stone built
medieval shieling located on the south bank of the White Lyne 230m WSW of its
confluence with Little Hare Grain. It is one of a larger group of 24 shielings
strung out for approximately 800m along the valley floor of the White Lyne
which were surveyed by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of
England in 1970 prior to afforestation of the area. The shieling is a
rectangular two-roomed hut which measures 8.2m by 3.7m with walls up to 1m
high, and has its long axis aligned east-west. There is an entrance in the
shieling's south side. Documentary sources indicate that the Bewcastle Fells
were first used by the Lords of Burgh on Solway in the 13th century to summer
their cattle and build `shields and cabins'. This custom continued into the
17th century.

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 on the south bank of the White Lyne 230m WSW of its
confluence with Little Hare Grain survives reasonably 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), 18-31
Denton, J, 'C&WAAS Tract Ser' in Accompot of the Most Consid Estates & Families in Cumberland, , Vol. II, (1887), 146
Schofield, A.J., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Shielings, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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