Ancient Monuments

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Medieval shieling and enclosure 340m north west of Gleadscleugh

A Scheduled Monument in Akeld, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5568 / 55°33'24"N

Longitude: -2.0815 / 2°4'53"W

OS Eastings: 394956.504598

OS Northings: 629239.334325

OS Grid: NT949292

Mapcode National: GBR F4X5.5V

Mapcode Global: WH9ZH.0L3F

Entry Name: Medieval shieling and enclosure 340m north west of Gleadscleugh

Scheduled Date: 27 April 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018024

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29346

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Akeld

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Kirknewton St Gregory

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes remains of a medieval shieling and a surrounding
enclosure, situated on the south facing slopes of Akeld Hill in a natural
depression. The enclosure, approximately 70m by 47m, is roughly `U'-shaped in
plan and orientated NNW-SSE, with the open end at the south, or downslope. It
is defined by a low sinuous bank, slightly terraced into the hillslope along
the northern edge and with occasional orthostats along its course; along the
western edge the bank is slight but can be seen clearly on aerial photographs.
The sinuous nature of the enclosure bank and inclusion of orthostats suggest
that this enclosure is similar to others in the northern Cheviots which
are believed to be prehistoric in date. Attached to the end of the eastern arm
of the enclosure bank is a subsidiary enclosure 12m across and interpreted as
an animal pen.
The shieling is located in the southern third of the enclosure; it is
rectangular in plan and measures 10m by 5m, with an entrance in the south
side. The building is divided into two unequal compartments with walls
standing up to 0.5m high; at the eastern end a semi-circular stone feature is

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 and enclosure north west of Gleadscleugh survive in
reasonable condition and retain significant archaeological deposits. The
importance of the monument is enhanced by the fact that the enclosure is
thought to have its origins in the prehistoric period. It is part of a wider
archaeological landscape of sites in the north Cheviots whose remains survive
well and will contribute to any study of settlement and land use in the
medieval period.

Source: Historic England


3-Mar-1980, Gates, T, NT9429F University of Newcastle AP Collection, (1980)

Source: Historic England

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