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Shielings and later farmstead on Cock Law, 600m north west of Horseholme

A Scheduled Monument in Kingwater, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.0361 / 55°2'10"N

Longitude: -2.5285 / 2°31'42"W

OS Eastings: 366320.24865

OS Northings: 571415.762622

OS Grid: NY663714

Mapcode National: GBR BBS6.DH

Mapcode Global: WH90N.4P73

Entry Name: Shielings and later farmstead on Cock Law, 600m north west of Horseholme

Scheduled Date: 12 March 1974

Last Amended: 24 February 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017724

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25138

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Kingwater

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Gilsland St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes the remains of a farmstead of post-medieval date,
situated on the summit of a ridge. The farmstead, which is oriented east to
west, is visible as the turf foundations of an enclosure which measures 101m
east to west by 37m north to south; a later extension on its western side
measures 84m by 46m. The walls of the enclosure are on average 1.5m wide and
stand to a maximum height of 0.7m. Within the original eastern part of the
enclosure there are the remains of four rectangular buildings of turf
construction with walls standing to a maximum height of 1m. Three of the
buildings are oriented east to west. The most westerly measures 7.6m by 4m
and, situated some 5m to the east, the second building measures 9m by 5m with
a small straight sided annexe attached to its eastern side. Some 60m further
west are the remains of the third building, measuring 8m by 5m, which also has
a straight ended annexe attached to its eastern end. The fourth building,
which measures 6m by 3.7m, is situated to the north of the others and is
oriented north to south. Within the secondary western extension there is a
single building oriented east to west and measuring 10.7m by 6.1m. It also has
a straight sided annexe attached to its eastern side. Exploratory excavation
at the farmstead in 1960 unearthed a 17th century clay pipe bowl. The
farmstead is situated within the area known to be the medieval shieling
grounds or summer pastures of the tenants of Brampton and it is thought that
the farmstead and the internal buildings developed from earlier shielings
situated in this area.

MAP EXTRACT
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 system of summer transhumance or shielding survived until its decline in
the 17th century in many areas of Northern England. By the mid-18th century it
had been replaced by permanent farmsteads. The decline in shielding was
largely due to the inefficient nature of a largely pastoral economy which
demanded the evacuation of the winter settlements for several months. More
efficient systems of pasture management were introduced which in some places
resulted in summer pasturing giving way to all year occupation. The permanent
farmsteads which resulted are similar to shielings in form and construction,
although the later houses are often larger. Permanent farmsteads are
distinguished from shielings by the fact that they stand alone and are usually
accompanied by enclosures for the penning of cattle. They frequently also have
circular or rectangular stack stands upon which winter fodder was stored and
some have small plots containing spade dug cultivation or lazy beds.
Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this, England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more.
The borders local region comprises the great slope of land between the high
Cheviots and Solway, where hamlets and scattered farmsteads predominate, and
where bastles and tower houses recall the social conditions of the Anglo-
Scottish borders before the mid-7th century. The eastern part of the region,
containing the wastes of the Bewcastle Fells and Spadeadam, can be seen as a
separate subdivision; it was occupied by shieling grounds during the Middle
Ages and the Tudor period, and preserves the remains of associated settlement
sites.
The farmstead on Cock Law is well preserved and retains significant
archaeological deposits. It is a fine example of a farmstead of this date and
its importance is enhanced by its association with medieval shielings, from
which it is thought to have developed.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 44-47

Source: Historic England

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