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Friday, March 27, 2009


I first noticed Shielings or "Old Sheilings" which are common on Scottish Ordnance Survey maps such as that below in an area one km to the north west of Ben Lawers near Loch Tay. Often the remains are only random and remote piles of stones but they are fascinationg reminders of a vanished culture. A shieling was the shelter for herdsmen who moved their flocks to upland pastures during the summer months. This practice is called transhumance. Still practiced in parts of Europe, but in the UK not since the land clearances of the early 19th Century. Transhumance was the fate of many Scottish cotters (cotter - a peasant farmer in the Scottish Highlands) for many generations. A healthy but bleak life in the highlands,
sharing the elements with
sheep or cattle, ravens and
golden eagles.
There is little evidence left for any archhaeologists. The stone walls and a few hearth blackened stones would be the only signs of the anonymous former occupanrs who would have taken everything back with them as they herded the stock to the lowland pastures with the onset of winter.

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