Ancient Monuments

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Ardan Breac, shielings 2780m WNW of Balgrennie

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

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Latitude: 57.145 / 57°8'41"N

Longitude: -3.0223 / 3°1'20"W

OS Eastings: 338238

OS Northings: 806474

OS Grid: NJ382064

Mapcode National: GBR WG.3WFJ

Mapcode Global: WH7N0.KN1Y

Entry Name: Ardan Breac, shielings 2780m WNW of Balgrennie

Scheduled Date: 21 March 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11791

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, visible as a series of upstanding banks and low mounds. The monument lies at around 400m OD on a W-facing slope to the E of the confluence of Deskry Water and the Burn of Riegunachie,

The site consists of the remains of 11 sub-rectangular buildings and one sub-circular structure, probably the remains of a pen. The buildings range from about 4-12m in length and from about 2-6m in width. The walls of the buildings are visible primarily as turf or earthen banks measuring up to about 2m in width and up to 0.4m in height. Stone is visible in the walls of some of the buildings, and four of the structures are situated on low mounds, suggesting that they may occupy the sites of earlier turf-built buildings. These shielings do not appear on any edition of the Ordnance Survey (OS) map, and this may indicate that they are particularly early examples.

The area to be scheduled is an irregular polygon on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around in which archaeological evidence relating to their use and construction may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

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.

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. For example, this shieling group would appear to lack the adjacent dairies or stores observed on other shieling sites in the Central Highlands, despite dating to the same period and showing a similar settlement pattern. The structure types in this group are also markedly different from those of another group of buildings immediately across Burn of Riegunachie. It is unclear whether these 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 is presumed to have died out in the 18th century and seems to have definitely ceased by 1869, as these shieling 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 is also of great interest to countries to which large populations of Scots migrated in the 19th century. This shieling site therefore has the potential to inform genealogical research as well as having 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 48.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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