A shielingis a hut or collection of huts on a seasonal pasture high in the hills, once common in wild or sparsely populated places in Scotland. Usually rectangular with a doorway on the south side and few or no windows, they were often constructed of dry stone or turf. More loosely, the term may denote a seasonal mountain pasture for the grazing of cattle in summer. Seasonal pasturage implies transhumance between the shieling and a valley settlement in winter. The isolated nature of shielings may have provided opportunity for sexual experimentation. Many Scottish songs have been written about life in shielings, often concerning courtship and love. The ruins of shielings are abundant landscape features across Scotland, particularly the Highlands.
A "shieling" is a summer dwelling on a seasonal pasture high in the hills.The first recorded use of the term is from 1568. The word "shieling" comes from "shiel", from the forms schele or shale in the Northern dialect of Middle English, likely related to Old Frisian skul meaning "hiding place" and to Old Norse Skjol meaning "shelter" and Skali meaning "hut".
A shieling, whether an isolated dwelling or in a group, is a hut or small dwelling, usually in an upland area. 5.7–14 metres (19–46 ft) long and 3–8.3 metres (9.8–27.2 ft) wide, although they may have rounded corners or be roughly oval. The rectangular buildings usually had gabled roofs covered in local materials such as turf, heather, or rushes, supported on timbers. The doorway was usually in the middle of one of the long sides of the building, often on the south side; it was often just a gap in the wall, although some shielings had door jambs and lintels made of larger blocks of stone. The smaller shielings consisted of a single room; most were divided into two or three rooms. There were few or no windows. Some sources consider shielings to differ from farmsteads in lacking an enclosure, although they may be surrounded by a bank and ditch, or by a dry stone wall.Shielings were often constructed of locally available dry stone, or turf. They are mostly rectangular buildings between
The Welsh traveller and naturalist Thomas Pennant wrote the first description of Scottish shielings:
I landed on a bank covered with sheelins, the temporary habitations of some peasants who tend the herds of milch cows. These formed a grotesque group; some were oblong, some conic, and so low that the entrance is forbidden without creeping through the opening, which has no other door than a faggot of birch twigs placed there occasionally; they are constructed of branches of trees covered with sods; the furniture a bed of heather; placed on a bank of sod, two blankets and a rug; some dairy vessels; and above, certain pendent shelves made of basket‑work, to hold the cheese, the product of the summer. In one of the little conic huts I spied a little infant asleep.
The shieling system was widespread across Europe, including upland Britain and Iceland. It survives into the 21st century in Norway, Northern Sweden and the higher areas of central Europe. gruthim, salted buttered curds. He suggests that the isolation of shielings gave opportunity for "sexual experiment[ation]", and in evidence identifies a moor named Àraidh na suiridh, the bothy of lovemaking. [ disputed ]Farmers and their families lived in shielings during the summer to enable their livestock to graze common land. Shielings were therefore associated with the transhumance system of agriculture. They were often beside streams, which were used as pathways into the hills, or at the far end of the upland grazing land from the migrants' winter dwellings. The mountain huts generally fell out of use by the end of the 17th century, although in remote areas, such as the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides, this system continued into the 18th century or even later. Derek Cooper, in his 1983 book on Skye, writes that the buildings on the moors were repaired each summer when the people arrived with their cattle; they made butter and cheese, and
Ruins of shielings are abundant in high or marginal land in Scotland and Northern England,as are place-names containing "shield" or their Gaelic equivalents, such as Pollokshields in Glasgow, Arinagour on the island of Coll, Galashiels in the Scottish Borders, and "Shiels Brae" near Bewcastle. Turf-built shielings have typically gradually eroded and disappeared, but traces of stone-built structures persist in the landscape. Some shielings are medieval in origin and were occasionally occupied permanently after the abandonment of the transhumance system. The construction of associated structures such as stack-stands and enclosures indicate that in these cases they became farmsteads, some of which evolved into contemporary farms.
Many Scottish songs have been written about life in shielings, often concerning courtship and love.Several of these are in Alexander Macdonald's 1914 Story and Song from Loch Ness-side, including "Cha teid mi Choir Odhar", "Chunacas gruagach ‘s an aonach", and "A fhlesgaich is cummaire", all from Perthshire, and "Luinneag Airidh" (a shieling lovesong). The song "Chunacas gruagach ‘s an aonach" includes the lines
"Many times often you and I,
Have been at the shieling on Brae Rannoch.
On the hillock of the waterfall,
Where we were resting.
In the bothy of the dalliance,
With a brushwood screen for door.
My mouth placed on your fragrant mouth,
And my hand would be round you, my love."
The song is similar to the famous"Bothan Àirigh am Bràigh Raithneach" (The Shieling bothy on Brae Rannoch). Shielings are mentioned in the folk song "Mairi's Wedding", in the weaver poet Robert Tannahill's song "Gilly Callum", and in the musicologist William Sharp's "Shieling Song" of 1896, and in the title of Marjory Kennedy-Fraser's tune "Island Sheiling Song". Edward Thomas wrote a poem called "The Shieling". The Scottish poet Robert Burns mentions a "shiel" in his song "Bessy and her Spinnin' Wheel" and his poem "The Country Lass".
Transhumance is a type of pastoralism or nomadism, a seasonal movement of livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In montane regions, it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and lower valleys in winter. Herders have a permanent home, typically in valleys. Generally only the herds travel, with a certain number of people necessary to tend them, while the main population stays at the base. In contrast, horizontal transhumance is more susceptible to being disrupted by climatic, economic, or political change.
Robert Tannahill was a Scottish poet of labouring class origin. Known as the 'Weaver Poet', he wrote poetry in English and lyrics in Scots in the wake of Robert Burns.
Mallaig is a port in Lochaber, on the west coast of the Highlands of Scotland. The local railway station, Mallaig, is the terminus of the West Highland railway line and the town is linked to Fort William by the A830 road – the "Road to the Isles".
Braemar is a village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, around 58 miles (93 km) west of Aberdeen in the Highlands. It is the closest significantly-sized settlement to the upper course of the River Dee sitting at an elevation of 339 metres (1,112 ft).
A mountain hut is a building located high in the mountains, generally accessible only by foot, intended to provide food and shelter to mountaineers, climbers and hikers. Mountain huts are usually operated by an Alpine Club or some organization dedicated to hiking or mountain recreation. They are known by many names, including alpine hut, mountain shelter, mountain refuge, mountain lodge, and mountain hostel. It may also be called a refuge hut, although these occur in lowland areas too.
A bothy is a basic shelter, usually left unlocked and available for anyone to use free of charge. It was also a term for basic accommodation, usually for gardeners or other workers on an estate. Bothies are found in remote mountainous areas of Scotland, Northern England, Ulster and Wales. They are particularly common in the Scottish Highlands, but related buildings can be found around the world. A bothy was also a semi-legal drinking den in the Isle of Lewis. These, such as Bothan Eòrapaidh, were used until recent years as gathering points for local men and were often situated in an old hut or caravan.
Balquhidder is a small village in Perthshire located 10 miles (16 km) north-west of Callander. It is administered by the Stirling council area of Scotland and is overlooked by the dramatic mountain terrain of the 'Braes of Balquhidder', at the head of Loch Voil. Balquhidder Glen is also popular for fishing, nature watching and walking.
A hut is a small dwelling, which may be constructed of various local materials. Huts are a type of vernacular architecture because they are built of readily available materials such as wood, snow, ice, stone, grass, palm leaves, branches, hides, fabric, or mud using techniques passed down through the generations.
Mícheál Ó Domhnaill was an Irish singer, guitarist, composer, and producer who was a major influence on Irish traditional music in the second half of the twentieth century. He is remembered for his innovative work with Skara Brae, the first group to record vocal harmonization in Irish language songs, and The Bothy Band, one of the most influential groups in Irish traditional music. His reputation was enhanced by a successful collaboration with master fiddler Kevin Burke, and his work with the Celtic groups Relativity and Nightnoise, which achieved significant commercial and critical acclaim.
Scottish Vernacular architecture is a form of vernacular architecture that uses local materials.
"Wild Mountain Thyme" is a Scottish/Irish folk song. The lyrics and melody are a variant of the song "The Braes of Balquhither" by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill (1774–1810) and Scottish composer Robert Archibald Smith (1780–1829), but were adapted by Belfast musician Francis McPeake (1885–1971) into "Wild Mountain Thyme" and first recorded by his family in the 1950s.
Kintail is an area of mountains in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland, located in the Highland Council area. It consists of the mountains to the north of Glen Shiel and the A87 road between the heads of Loch Duich and Loch Cluanie; its boundaries, other than Glen Shiel, are generally taken to be the valleys of Strath Croe and Gleann Gaorsaic to the north and An Caorann Mòr to the east. Although close to the west coast the mountains lie on the main east–west watershed of Scotland, as the northern side of Kintail drains via Glen Affric to the east coast.
Corrour Bothy is a simple stone building on Mar Lodge Estate, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
The Scalan was once a seminary and was one of the few places in Scotland where the Roman Catholic faith was kept alive during the troubled times of the 18th century.
Loch Muick is an upland, freshwater loch lying approximately 5 mi (8.0 km) south of Braemar, Scotland at the head of Glen Muick and within the boundary of the Balmoral estate.
Braes of Rannoch is a hill with a deserted hamlet and church in Perthshire. The hamlet was formerly, briefly, called Georgetown, as the redcoat barracks of Jacobite rising of 1745 were then known, then known as Bridge of Rannoch, or Bridge of Gaur, after the bridge on the River Gaur. The original barracks have gone but a large house and shooting lodge, Rannoch Barracks, is named after them. The Braes of Rannoch Manse became a hostel for forestry workers by the 1970s. The church is today a tourist feature on the road from Kinloch Rannoch to Rannoch Station.
Glas-allt-Shiel is a lodge on the Balmoral Estate by the shore of Loch Muick in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. In its present form it was built in 1868 by Queen Victoria, who called it Glassalt, to be what she called her "widow's house" where she could escape from the world following the death of her husband Albert. It is now a category B listed building owned personally by Charles III. Adam Watson considers that "Glas-allt-Shiel has undoubtedly one of the most spectacular situations of any lodge in the Highlands."
Loch Essan is a freshwater trout loch, located 2 miles north of Loch Dochart, within the Stirling Council Area, Scotland.
Envelope marked ‘Duets’: letter from Marie Thomson, Edinburgh, 15 September 1923, ‘The Road to the Isles’, manuscript, arranged for twopart chorus by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser, ‘Milking Croon’ and ‘Island Sheiling Song’ and ‘Pulling the Sea-Dulse’, manuscripts, arranged for two voices by Marjory Kennedy-Fraser.