Ancient Monuments

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Group of shielings, 100m north of Tinkler Crags

A Scheduled Monument in Kingwater, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.0367 / 55°2'12"N

Longitude: -2.5733 / 2°34'23"W

OS Eastings: 363456.025147

OS Northings: 571506.123388

OS Grid: NY634715

Mapcode National: GBR BBG6.P8

Mapcode Global: WH90M.FNVM

Entry Name: Group of shielings, 100m north of Tinkler Crags

Scheduled Date: 31 March 1994

Last Amended: 24 February 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017732

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28571

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


The monument includes the remains of a group of at least 12 shielings,
situated on flat land within a meander of the steep-sided King Water Burn. The
shielings range in date from medieval through to post-medieval and a variety
of forms are visible. Documents record the name `Kingeschales' in 1292 and in
1346 and this is thought to be a reference to the many shielings scattered
along the King Water Valley.
Three main groups of shielings representing three main phases of use are
visible at the monument. The first phase is represented by a group of six
shielings all of which are orientated with their long axis parallel to the
burn. They are also relatively short in length, ranging between 5.7m to 6.1m.
Five of this group of six shielings are visible as slight rectangular
platforms, while the sixth, situated at the extreme southern edge of the
monument, is visible as a stony platform standing 0.3m high.
The second phase is represented by a group of four well preserved shielings,
visible as rectangular buildings with walls standing on average to a height of
0.5m. All of the shielings in this group lie at right angles to the burn. They
range in length from 7.4m to 9.5m and all have a short annexe attached to
their eastern or western ends; the most northerly of this group has an annexe
attached to both ends. These shielings are also all divided into two rooms by
an internal stone wall and three of the four have an entrance through their
south wall. Two of the shielings in this group clearly overlie two shielings
of the first phase.
The third phase at the monument is represented by a single building; it is
square in shape with a narrow passage along its eastern side; buildings of
similar form elsewhere in the region are thought to be relatively late
post-medieval in date. At the northern end of the monument, a circular
sheepfold of 19th century date partially overlies two of the shielings.
These shielings are part of a larger group of shielings in the area which is
known to have formed part of the extensive summer pastures serving the
permanent settlements of several local manors.

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.

The shielings 100m north of Tinkler Crags are well preserved and retain
significant archaeological deposits. They are part of a wider group of
shielings situated along the River Irthing and its tributaries which, taken
together, will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the wider
Border settlement and economy during this period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 12-14

Source: Historic England

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