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Meikle Fleuchat, shielings and enclosures 1060m south east of Shiel

A Scheduled Monument in Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside, Aberdeenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1938 / 57°11'37"N

Longitude: -3.1979 / 3°11'52"W

OS Eastings: 327708

OS Northings: 812079

OS Grid: NJ277120

Mapcode National: GBR W8.0SJX

Mapcode Global: WH6LL.VGC0

Entry Name: Meikle Fleuchat, shielings and enclosures 1060m SE of Shiel

Scheduled Date: 20 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11524

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: shieling

Location: Strathdon

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a group of turf and stone built shieling huts, visible as a series of upstanding walls, banks and mounds on both sides of Meikle Fleuchat, at 520m OD.

No Ordnance Survey (OS) maps show the shielings, unlike other nearby surviving shielings, and this may indicate that they are particularly early examples. There is documentary evidence for shielings in the Fleuchats from the 16th to the 18th centuries.

The monument comprises 17 small structures. These range in length from 4.5m to 8.2m and in width from 2.2m to 4.3m, over walls ranging from 0.5m to 2.7m thick and up to 1m high, with some having annexes or being set into turf mounds.

The area to be scheduled comprises five discrete areas, each irregular on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them within which related material may be expected to survive, as marked in red on the attached map. The scheduling specifically excludes the burn, Meikle Fleuchat.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's archaeological and historic significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is a well-preserved example of a shieling group with upstanding remains dating from the 18th century, possibly earlier. It retains drystone walls, some set into turf mounds. The stone shielings are the latest phases of tells, consisting of the accumulated remains of successive phases of turf building. Pens and enclosures are also evident. Given the site's location on a shooting estate, it is likely that archaeologically significant deposits relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the structures remain in situ. Fluvial erosion has affected a small proportion of the site.

The site has considerable potential to enhance our understanding of the development and nature of transhumance practices in Strathdon. Meikle Fleuchat represents the accumulated remains of repeated building on the same site and therefore has the potential to provide information relating to the 18th century, and possibly earlier.

Contextual characteristics: The monument is a good representative of a once numerous class. Comparison of the local vernacular architectural features in this area with those on other Scottish historic rural settlement sites may enhance our understanding of regional variation in rural settlement in the post-medieval period. In particular, although belonging to the same period and a similar settlement pattern, the Allt Tobair Fhuair shielings would appear to lack the adjacent dairies or stores that archaeologists have observed on shieling sites in the Central Highlands. However, Meikle Fleuchat does have pens and enclosures, an unusual feature on shieling sites. Together with the shielings at Allt Tobair Fhuair and the pre- and post-Improvement farmsteads of Bressachoil, Auchnahaich and Badenshilloch, the Meikle Fleuchat shielings have the potential to shed light on the regional character of post-medieval settlement patterns. The survival of contemporary documents relating to the shielings at Aberdeen University and the National Archives of Scotland enhances this potential.

Associative characteristics: The monument is the product of pre-Improvement agricultural practices, which appear to have died out in the 18th century. The first mention of the shielings of Meikle Fleuchat is in a document of 1753, which notes that there is a traditional right for the tenants of the half davoch of Skellater to shiel in part of Glen Ernan. It goes on to recommend that thenceforth they should restrict the building of shielings to the 'Burns of Fluchetts', which is understood to be a reference to Meikle Fleuchat. They had presumably ceased to use the shielings by 1869, as the OS First Edition map does not record them; this is a reflection of the move to sheep farming in the lower glens, which negated the need for summer pasture away from the farmsteads. Indeed, a document of about 1832 states that farmers in Strathdon must 'preserve the right-shealing [sic.], for at least a week in summer', suggesting that the practice of spending extended periods in the hills had already disappeared by this time.

The rural settlement of Scotland remains a prominent part of Scotland's national consciousness and that of countries that have large populations of ex-patriate Scots. The sites in Glen Ernan therefore have potential in terms of genealogical tourism as well as academic research and education for schoolchildren and students in the UK.

National Importance: The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular post-medieval transhumance practices. Its relatively good preservation, the existence of multiple phases and the survival of historical records related to the monument's occupation, enhance this potential. The loss of this example would impede any future ability to understand these issues and the history of Glen Ernan in particular. The monument also has a place in the national consciousness, given the strong continued interest in the UK and abroad in the post-medieval history of rural areas of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the monument as NJ21SE15, Buildings; Shieling-Huts; Enclosures, Pens.

References:

Harrison J unpublished 2005, REPORT ON HISTORICAL RESEARCH FOR STRATHDON FIELD SURVEY, report for RCAHMS.

RCAHMS unpublished 2005, STRATHDON FIELD SURVEY REPORT.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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