Ancient Monuments

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A group of six shielings and tracks on Holwick Scars, 280m west of Hungry Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Holwick, County Durham

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Latitude: 54.634 / 54°38'2"N

Longitude: -2.1429 / 2°8'34"W

OS Eastings: 390874.323328

OS Northings: 526553.131568

OS Grid: NY908265

Mapcode National: GBR FGGV.WM

Mapcode Global: WHB3X.1SVC

Entry Name: A group of six shielings and tracks on Holwick Scars, 280m west of Hungry Hall

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019458

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34357

County: County Durham

Civil Parish: Holwick

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): County Durham


The monument includes a group of six shielings on Holwick Scars, between
Bedale Gill and Eel Beck, and tracks leading up from the enclosed land to the
shielings. The shielings consists of the remains of six rectangular buildings
of unmortared whinstone. The buildings range in size from 7m to 11m long by 4m
to 5m wide. The walls are about 1m wide and vary from 0.3m to 2m in height.
The tracks leading to the shielings consist of a single narrow track ascending
the scar diagonally and branching as it approaches the shielings.
This group of six shielings is very similar to the slightly larger group on
Crossthwaite Scar, further east (SM 34352), and the group south of Hungry Hall
(SM 34353). All these groups of buildings are interpreted as shielings.

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.

This group of shielings survives well and together with the tracks leading to
them they will add to the sum of knowledge relating to medieval land use in
the North Pennines. They form part of a well-preserved medieval landscape
in the Holwick area, which includes other shieling groups on the scar,
medieval settlement and field systems.

Source: Historic England

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