Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric hut circle settlement, associated field system and a medieval shieling 2.35km south west of Great Dun Fell radio transmitting station

A Scheduled Monument in Milburn, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.6674 / 54°40'2"N

Longitude: -2.4743 / 2°28'27"W

OS Eastings: 369505.037729

OS Northings: 530358.855253

OS Grid: NY695303

Mapcode National: GBR CG5G.3N

Mapcode Global: WH92D.YYX9

Entry Name: Prehistoric hut circle settlement, associated field system and a medieval shieling 2.35km south west of Great Dun Fell radio transmitting station

Scheduled Date: 6 October 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021010

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35000

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Milburn

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Milburn St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of a prehistoric
stone hut circle settlement and its associated field system and a medieval
shieling, located on sloping ground on the south western slopes of Great
Dun Fell, 2.35km south west of Great Dun Fell radio transmitting station.

The prehistoric stone hut circle settlement includes a sub-rectangular
stone-walled enclosure with an entrance on its downslope, south western
side. The enclosure is subdivided internally by low stone walls into one
large and two smaller enclosures. Between the two smaller enclosures there
is a circular platform measuring about 8m in diameter which is interpreted
as a hut platform. A second, smaller hut is situated close by, adjacent to
a kink in the western wall of the enclosure. Just outside the enclosure's
entrance, adjacent to the western wall which continues beyond the
enclosure and downslope for a short distance, there is a stone spread
which may mark the location of another small hut circle. Further downslope
the western stone wall connects with the wall of an oval-shaped enclosure
measuring approximately 10m by 5m internally with an entrance on its
upslope, north eastern side. Two small stone hut circles are located
outside t enclosure, one on either side of its entrance.

The associated field system extends to the north, south and west of the
hut circle settlement. It consists of a number of irregularly-shaped
stone-walled fields, the interiors of which have been largely cleared of
surface stone. The extreme western wall of the field system has a small
irregularly-shaped enclosure on the outside of its northern end.

Within the field system, at NY69463034, there are the remains of a
two-roomed stone-built medieval shieling measuring about 10m long by 5m
wide. One of the gable ends of the shieling has fallen outwards en-masse
leaving a triangular spread of stone. The presence of the medieval
shieling testifies to the partial reuse of the earlier settlement.

All telegraph poles are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Stone hut circles and hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of
prehistoric farmers. Most date from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). The stone-
based round-houses consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor
area; the remains of the turf, thatch or heather roofs are not preserved. The
huts may occur singly or in small or large groups and may lie in the open or
be enclosed by a bank of earth or stone. Frequently traces of their associated
field systems may be found immediately around them. These may be indicated by
areas of clearance cairns and/or the remains of field walls and other
enclosures. The longevity of use of hut circle settlements and their
relationship with other monument types provides important information on the
diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric
communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a
substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

Irregular aggregate field systems are one of several methods of field
layout known to have been employed from the Bronze Age to the Roman period
(c.2000 BC-AD400). They comprise a collection of field plots generally
lacking conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields with
sinuous outlines and varying shapes and sizes, bounded by stone or rubble
walls or banks, ditches or fences. The settlements or farmsteads from
which people utilised the fields are usually situated close to or within
the field system. The majority of these field systems are thought to have
been mainly for crop production although rotation may also have been
practiced in a mixed farming economy. They represent a coherent economic
unit often utilised for long periods and can thus provide important
information about developments in agricultural practices and broader
patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several

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.
The construction of herdsman's huts in a form distinctive from the normal
dwelling houses of farms, only appears from the early medieval period
onwards (about AD450), and their construction appears to cease at the end
of the 16th century. Shielings have a simple sub-rectangular or ovoid plan
normally defined by drystone walling. Most have a single undivided
interior but two-roomed examples are known. They 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 help illustrate medieval land use in an area are considered to be
nationally important.

The prehistoric hut circle settlement and associated field system 2.35km
south west of Great Dun Fell radio transmitting station survives well. It
represents evidence of long term management and exploitation of the
landscape and indicates the importance of this area in prehistoric times.
Additionally the medieval shieling survives well and will add to our
knowledge and understanding of settlement patterns during the medieval

Source: Historic England


AP No. BAI 25, Cumbria SMR, Milburn Settlement Site, (1984)
AP No. BAI25, Cumbria SMR, Milburn Settlement Site, (1984)
SMR No. 3919, Cumbria SMR, Milburn Settlement Site, (1984)

Source: Historic England

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