Ancient Monuments

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Largiebaan, shielings 750m south west of

A Scheduled Monument in South Kintyre, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 55.3613 / 55°21'40"N

Longitude: -5.7763 / 5°46'34"W

OS Eastings: 160761

OS Northings: 613975

OS Grid: NR607139

Mapcode National: IRL WQ.R876

Mapcode Global: GBR DG3J.YRR

Entry Name: Largiebaan, shielings 750m SW of

Scheduled Date: 13 August 1975

Last Amended: 15 March 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3719

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: shieling

Location: Southend

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: South Kintyre

Traditional County: Argyllshire


The monument comprises the remains of a group of shieling huts of pre-Improvement date. These huts were temporary dwellings, used seasonally by farm-workers who migrated to upland pastures with their cattle during the summer months. The monument occupies the NW side of a small hillock at approximately 30m above sea level in an area currently used for rough grazing. The monument was originally scheduled in 1975, but the documentation does not meet modern standards; the present rescheduling rectifies this.

This group of shieling huts is visible as a cluster of at least 12 small rectangular foundations, varying from approximately 4 by 3m to about 8 by 4m in extent, with the wall-banks standing up to 0.5m high. The hut walls appear to have been built mainly of turf, but may have had stone foundations. At least half of the huts were built on small mounds, which themselves probably represent the remains of successive earlier huts. Two of the hut foundations are conjoined, perhaps indicating a single dwelling with two rooms.

The area to be scheduled is a circle measuring 100m in diameter, centred on the middle of the hillock, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

By their very nature, shieling huts tend to be less substantial than other types of structure and, therefore, less likely to survive. Overall, this group of shieling huts survives in reasonable condition, with the turf-covered footings of the hut walls clearly visible. This cluster of features testifies to the practice of transhumance (seasonal agricultural activity) in the medieval and later period, which occurred possibly over many decades or centuries. Some of the turf footings are sited on small mounds, which suggests that the huts may have been built and re-built on the same spot, in which case this site may have a more complex development sequence than at first appears. One of the features is of particular interest as it appears to consist of two conjoined huts or rooms. It may indicate a single dwelling with two rooms, one perhaps relating to dairying activity and the other used as living space; or it may reflect two different phases, with a later hut built next to, rather than on top of, an earlier structure. Future investigation of the site could enhance our understanding of the origins, use and re-use of seasonally occupied places and agricultural practices over a considerable length of time.

It is likely that important archaeological deposits survive in and around the shieling huts, which could contribute towards our understanding of rural transhumance practices in Argyll and more generally in Scotland during the medieval and later period. Archaeological evidence for the internal layout of the huts, the remains of any fittings and furniture, and for the construction and use of the shieling huts is likely to survive below ground. As an example, excavated shieling huts elsewhere have produced accumulated deposits of ash near their entrances, resulting from the periodic cleaning out of internal hearths. Scientific analysis of such remains could greatly enhance our understanding and appreciation of the dating and occupation sequence of the site.

Contextual characteristics

The monument represents the remains of an important group of shieling huts, which can be compared with other examples in Argyll. Shieling huts and the use of summer pastures were part of a long-lived seasonal practice in parts of rural Scotland. Occasionally, whole villages would relocate from their 'winter town' to the shielings or 'summer town'. Because of their function and seasonality, shielings are often located in remote upland regions. The huts were normally sited on small hills near fresh water, in good positions for monitoring the whereabouts and wellbeing of cattle and for carrying out dairying activities. The huts themselves were built of wood or stone, and covered in turfs dug from the hill. They often contained a room with a hearth on one side and a sleeping area on the other; a separate room or cupboard was often used to store dairy produce and supplements, such as fish bones for the cattle. Textual sources suggest that children and young women primarily carried out these activities, and that time spent at the shieling was often welcomed as the occupants were away from the watchful eye of parents and village elders.

Shieling traditions and, specifically, hut construction seem to vary regionally, at least partly reflecting the availability of different building materials. The shieling huts at Largiebaan survive as turf footings, which suggests they were constructed primarily from timber and turf. Typically, they are grouped on a small hill in a wide valley and located next to a stream. Comparative study of the form, construction and location of this group of shieling huts with others across Argyll and further afield can enhance our knowledge and understanding of regional and national variations in transhumance practices and the character of vernacular buildings.

National Importance

The monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular the siting, function and construction of upland shielings, their place in the social and economic organisation of the time, and the changes in rural land-use and agricultural practices from the medieval period to the early 19th century. The relatively good state of preservation of this group of shieling huts enhances this potential. The loss of the monument would affect our ability to understand rural settlement and land-use from the pre-Improvement period in both Argyll and Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as NR61SW 2. The West of Scotland Archaeology Service SMR reference is WoSAS PIN 2954.


Boyle, S 2003, 'Ben Lawers: An Improvement-period landscape on Lochtayside, Perthshire', in Govan S (ed), Conference Proceedings. Medieval or Later Rural Settlement 10 years on, Historic Scotland: Edinburgh, 17-30.

Raven, J 2012, 'The Shielings Survey: Central South Uist', in Parker Pearson M (ed) From Machair to Mountains: Archaeological Survey and Excavation in South Uist, Oxbow Books: Oxford, 160-179.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, 1971, Argyll: an inventory of the monuments, vol 1: Kintyre, 43 (no. 39), Edinburgh.

Thomas, F L W 1870, 'On the Primitive Dwellings and Hypogea of the Outer Hebrides', Proc Soc Antiq Scot 7 (1866-68), 153-95.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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