Selected Project Article

Holwick Scars, Holwick, Teesdale
GPS Survey of Holwick Scars Scheduled Monument 1019458
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Google Earth view of Holwick Scars Scheduled Monument and Holwick Deserted Settlement Holwick Scars Scheduled Monument 1019458 GPS Survey
Altogether Archaeology is an independent community archaeology group based in the North Pennines, who are researching in the area from Teesdale to the river Tyne. Prior to late 2015 it was formally a sub-group of the North Pennine AONB. During the period 2009-2015 Altogether Archaeology AONB completed a considerable volume of community based archaeology. One of those projects was to survey the Well Head settlement at Holwick during the first half of 2011. That report is available on the Reports page.

The independent Altogether Archaeology was form in 2015 when the AONB project concluded. Fortunately it has a number of qualified archaeologists amongst its membership. In May 2017, with the permission of the landowner and tenant farmer, the group held a week-long fieldwork session to update the Holwick Settlement survey using both GPS and traditional methods. This was a valuable members' training exercise too. Because of its proximity a 'walk-over' GPS survey was made of the Holwick Scars Scheduled Monument 1019458 (Monument 1019458), as this had not been looked at in 2011. A two week excavation was scheduled at the Holwick deserted settlement later later in the year.

The Holwick Scars site lists six shielings. Historic England describes shielings as:
"Shielings are small seasonally occupied huts which were built to provide shelter for herdsmen who tended animals grazing summer pasture on upland or marshland. These huts reflect a system called transhumance, whereby stock was moved in spring from lowland pasture around the permanently occupied farms to communal upland grazing during the warmer summer months. Settlement patterns reflecting transhumance are known from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) onwards. However, the construction of herdsmen's huts in a form distinctive from the normal dwelling houses of farms, only appears from the early medieval period onwards (from AD 450), when the practice of transhumance is also known from documentary sources and, notably, place-name studies. Their construction appears to cease at the end of the 16th century. Shielings vary in size but are commonly small and may occur singly or in groups. They have a simple sub- rectangular or ovoid plan normally defined by drystone walling, although occasional turf-built structures are known, and the huts are sometimes surrounded by a ditch. Most examples have a single undivided interior but two roomed examples are known. Some examples have adjacent ancillary structures, such as pens, and may be associated with a midden. Some are also contained within a small ovoid enclosure. Shielings are reasonably common in the uplands but frequently represent the only evidence for medieval settlement and farming practice here. Those examples which survive well and which help illustrate medieval land use in an area are considered to be nationally important".

Historic England then describe this site as:
"This group of shielings survives well and together with the tracks leading to them they will add to the sum of knowledge relating to medieval land use in the North Pennines. They form part of a well-preserved medieval landscape in the Holwick area, which includes other shieling groups on the scar, medieval settlement and field systems".

The GPS Survey of Holwick Scars Scheduled Monument 1019458 report can be downloaded here.

Interestingly Feature L (image 4) that is divided into two by the moorland enclosure wall, has a much cruder looking foundation more akin to the foundations of the six shielings above.
Feature H   Feature L that forms part of a house platform in the Holwick Deserted Settlement site above the moorland enclosure dry-stone wall.
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