Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Groddie Cottage, shielings 2520m, 2630m and 2700m WNW of

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

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Latitude: 57.1427 / 57°8'33"N

Longitude: -3.0233 / 3°1'24"W

OS Eastings: 338170

OS Northings: 806223

OS Grid: NJ381062

Mapcode National: GBR WG.42Q2

Mapcode Global: WH7N0.JQJP

Entry Name: Groddie Cottage, shielings 2520m, 2630m and 2700m WNW of

Scheduled Date: 21 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11790

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: shieling

Location: Logie-Coldstone

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises the remains of a group of shieling huts, pens and enclosures of late medieval and post-medieval date, visible as a series of upstanding low stone walls, earthen banks, platforms, hollows and mounds. The monument is spread down a N-facing slope to the SSE of the confluence of Deskry Water and the Burn of Riegunachie, between around 410m to 440m OD (Ordnance Datum).

The monument consists of the remains of at least 15 rectangular or sub-rectangular structures ranging from about 4-12m in length and from about 2-6m and in width. A number of rectilinear and circular pens and platforms lie among the structures. Some of the structures are situated on mounds, one of which is very substantial, measuring some 15m by 10m by up to 1.5m in height. These mounds are likely to represent the remains of earlier turf buildings, suggesting that the site may have been in use over a prolonged period of time. Although most of the structures are defined by earth or turf banks, there is a group of stone-built structures at the S, upslope end of the site whose walls stand up to about 4 courses high. Some of these are attached to small yards and overlie earlier turf-built structures. One of them, with a small yard attached, is shown as unroofed on the First Edition of the Ordnance Survey (OS) mapping. Although the date of the site's abandonment is unknown, the S end of the site is marked as 'Riegunachie Shiels' on this OS First Edition map (1869). This suggests that these structures may post-date the remainder of the site and probably represent the site's final phase of use. The use of the word 'shiel' also suggests that local memory of the site as a shieling ground continued into the 19th century.

The area to be scheduled comprises three discrete areas, each an irregular polygon on plan, to include the remains described and an area around them where related material is likely to survive, as shown in red on the attached map. The N area to be scheduled is bounded on its W and N by the edge of a modern unsurfaced track. The central area to be scheduled is bounded by modern unsurfaced tracks for short distances on its NW and NE sides. The scheduled area specifically excludes these tracks.

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. Given the site's location in an area of non-intensive land use, it is likely that archaeologically significant deposits relating to the construction, use and abandonment of the structures remain in situ. The site has considerable potential to enhance understanding of the development and nature of transhumance practices in Strathdon in the 16th to 18th centuries, and possibly earlier. This potential is enhanced by the variety of structures, some of which are constructed on top of each other, suggesting that a number of phases of activity may be represented on the site.

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. The building types in this group are markedly different from those contained within other shieling groups in the area, including one group of buildings immediately across Burn of Riegunachie. It is unclear whether the two groups of structures are contemporary. Comparative study of the two groups has the potential to further inform our understanding of the nature and chronology of use of this locality for transhumance activities.

Associative characteristics: The monument is the product of pre-Improvement agricultural practices, which appear to have died out in the 18th century. 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. A document of about 1832 states that farmers in Strathdon must 'preserve the right-shealing [sic.], for at least a week in summer', supporting the suggestion that the practice of spending extended periods in the hills had already disappeared by this time. The S end of the group is marked as 'Riegunachie Shiels' on the OS First Edition map, suggesting that even though the shieling had fallen out of use before this date (1869), the name 'shiel' had not, and that the stone built structures and enclosures on the site had probably continued to be used later than other parts of the site.

The historic rural settlement of Scotland remains a prominent part of Scotland's national consciousness and also of great interest to countries to which large populations of Scots migrated in the 19th century. This shieling site therefore has potential in terms of genealogical research as well as academic research and education potential for students and schoolchildren 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 and settlement patterns. Its relatively good preservation and its close proximity to another shieling group of differing construction style enhance this potential. The loss of this example would impede any future ability to understand these issues particularly in relation to the history of Strathdon. The monument also has a place in the national consciousness, given the strong continued interest in the post-medieval history of rural areas of Scotland in the UK and abroad.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the monument as NJ30NE 46.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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