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Peatfold, shielings, enclosure and ring-ditch house 950m north of

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.2621 / 57°15'43"N

Longitude: -3.072 / 3°4'19"W

OS Eastings: 335433

OS Northings: 819554

OS Grid: NJ354195

Mapcode National: GBR L9SJ.FFK

Mapcode Global: WH6L8.SQBP

Entry Name: Peatfold, shielings, enclosure and ring-ditch house 950m N of

Scheduled Date: 27 September 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11794

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: hut circle, roundhouse; Secular: shieling

Location: Glenbuchat

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

Description

The monument comprises the remains of a later prehistoric ring-ditch house, a group of 15 shieling huts and a large enclosure with three small huts attached, of late medieval or post-medieval date, visible as a series of earth-and-stone banks. It lies in heather moorland at around 440m above sea level, towards the N end of Upper Glenbuchat, beneath a prominent crag known as Eagles' Stone.

The ring-ditch house measures about 8.5m in diameter and has a well-defined outer edge, especially on the W. The shieling huts are rectilinear and range in size from about 5m by 4m up to about 12m by 6m. The First Edition of the Ordnance Survey mapping (1872) does not show any buildings at this location, suggesting that use of the site had died out long before this date. The enclosure is polygonal and measures up to 117m from E to W by 100m transversely within the bank. A small hut or pen is attached to the outer face of the bank midway along the N side; another two huts or pens are respectively attached to the inner face of the bank 30m S of the NE corner, and the outer face of the bank about 2m N of the SE corner.

The area to be scheduled comprises three 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 shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics: The monument is a well-preserved example of a shieling group and associated enclosure with upstanding remains probably dating from the 16th to 18th centuries. The area to be scheduled also includes a later prehistoric ring-ditch house. 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 place. The site has considerable potential to enhance understanding of the development and nature of transhumance practices (temporary migration to summer pastures) in Strathdon in general and Glen Buchat in particular. The shieling site may represent the accumulated remains of repeated building in the same locality, and therefore has the potential to provide information relating to the 16th to 18th centuries, and possibly earlier. The ring-ditch house has considerable potential to enhance understanding of later prehistoric roundhouses and the daily lives of the people who occupied them.

Contextual characteristics: The ring-ditch house lies within an upland landscape surrounded by the remains of post-medieval shieling huts. Together with the shielings, huts and associated enclosure, the ring-ditch house retains the potential to tell us much about the development of agricultural practices over time. The ring-ditch is a type of hut-circle. It is a good representative of a class that is widespread in E Scotland. We know of relatively few ring-ditch houses in Strathdon, however, and only six in Glenbuchat.

The presence of a large rectangular enclosure at this shieling site is unusual; its inclusion in the scheduling reflects the potential for it to provide further information on the activities undertaken by those who made seasonal use of shieling sites. 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 Peatfold 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 Allt Tobair Fhuair in Glen Ernan, Peatfold in Glen Buchat, and the pre- and post-Improvement farmsteads of Bressachoil, Auchnahaich (Glen Ernan) and Badenshilloch, the Peatfold shielings have the potential to shed light on the regional character of post-medieval settlement patterns.

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', 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 Buchat therefore have potential in terms of genealogical interest as well as academic research.

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 Bronze- or Iron-Age society and the nature of both later prehistoric domestic practice and post-medieval transhumance practices. Its relatively good preservation, the existence of multiple phases and unusual features such as the large enclosure, coupled with the survival of historical records related to the monument's occupation enhances this potential. The loss of this example would impede our 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

RCAHMS record the ring-ditch as Craigies: Ring-Ditch House (NJ31NE95) and the shielings as Craigies: Shieling Huts (NJ31NE84).

References:

RCAHMS 2007, IN THE SHADOW OF BENNACHIE: THE FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY OF DONSIDE, ABERDEENSHIRE, Edinburgh: Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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