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Allt Tobair Fhuair, shielings 3270m west of Aldachuie

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.2261 / 57°13'34"N

Longitude: -3.1929 / 3°11'34"W

OS Eastings: 328072

OS Northings: 815672

OS Grid: NJ280156

Mapcode National: GBR L9HM.D27

Mapcode Global: WH6LD.XMRR

Entry Name: Allt Tobair Fhuair, shielings 3270m W of Aldachuie

Scheduled Date: 20 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11503

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 shieling huts, lying on either side of Allt Tobair Fhuair, 540m SW of its confluence with the Water of Nochty.

The monument is visible as a series of upstanding walls, banks and mounds. No editions of the OS map show these shielings, unlike other surviving shielings nearby, and this may indicate that they are particularly early examples. Shieling is documented in Glen Nochty from the 16th to 18th centuries.

The visible remains comprise six small subrectangular buildings ranging in length from 4.7m to 8.8m. They are from 2.2m to 8.8 m wide, over walls ranging from 0.7m to 1.2m thick and up to 1m high.

The area to be scheduled consists of three discrete, irregularly shaped areas, to include the shielings and an area around in which evidence relating to their use and construction may survive, as marked in red on the accompanying map extract. Excluded from the scheduling is the burn, Allt Tobair Fhuair.

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 16th to 18th centuries. It retains drystone walls set into turf mounds. The stone shielings are the latest phases of tells, consisting of the accumulated remains of successive phases of turf building. Given the site's location on a shooting estate, it is likely that archaeological 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 understanding of the development and nature of transhumance practices in Strathdon. Allt Tobair Fhuair represents the accumulated remains of repeated building on the same site, and therefore has the potential to provide information relating to the 16th to 18th centuries, and possibly earlier.

Contextual characteristics: The monument is a good representative of a once numerous class. Comparison of local vernacular architectural features in this area with those of other Scottish shieling 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 observed on shieling sites in the Central Highlands. Together with the shielings at Meikle Fleuchat and the pre- and post-Improvement farmsteads of Bressachoil, Auchnahaich and Badenshilloch, the Allt Tobair Fhuair 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 shielings of Glen Nochty are first mentioned in a document of 1559 and then again in numerous 18th-century letters of tack, when they were use by the tenants of Ledmacay, Invernochty and Drumannety. The shielings to be scheduled here had presumably ceased to be used by 1869, as they are not recorded on the OS first edition map; 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 historic rural settlement of Scotland remains a prominent part of Scotland's national consciousness and that of countries to which large populations of Scots migrated in the 19th century. The sites in Glen Ernan therefore have potential in terms of genealogical tourism as well as academic research and education potential 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 enhances this potential. The loss of this example would impede any future ability to understand these issues and the history of Strathdon 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

The monument is recorded by RCAHMS as NJ21NE28, Shieling-Huts; Shieling Mounds.

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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