Ancient Monuments

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Upperton, shielings 1360m north of

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

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Latitude: 57.2592 / 57°15'33"N

Longitude: -3.0464 / 3°2'47"W

OS Eastings: 336971

OS Northings: 819210

OS Grid: NJ369192

Mapcode National: GBR L9VJ.M50

Mapcode Global: WH7MF.5SKW

Entry Name: Upperton, shielings 1360m N of

Scheduled Date: 27 September 2007

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM11822

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: shieling

Location: Glenbuchat

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire


The monument comprises the remains of a group of turf and stone-built shieling huts and associated annexes. They are visible as a series of upstanding walls, banks and mounds on the N side of Glen Buchat, to the E of Waulkmill Burn, at 440m above sea level. No Ordnance Survey maps show the shielings and this may indicate that they are particularly early examples.

The monument comprises eight small structures consisting of small rectangular buildings and attached pens. These range in length from 5.5m to 7.5m and in width up to 5.2m, over grass and heather grown wall-footings.

The area to be scheduled comprises seven discrete areas, each rectangular 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 attached 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 with upstanding remains probably dating from the 16th to 18th centuries. 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 survive 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 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.

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, these 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 Glenbuchat, and the pre- and post-Improvement farmsteads in Glen Ernan, the Upperton 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 post-medieval transhumance practices. Its relatively good preservation and the potential existence of multiple phases enhance its importance. 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



RCAHMS record the monument as NJ31NE 82.



Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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