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SHIELING? (Undated)


NB 332 237

Full description:

NB32SW 16 332 237

What may be fifteen roofed shieling-huts and part of an enclosure, lengths of which are also marked by a pecked line, are depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Ross-shire, Island of Lewis 1852, sheet 32). Fourteen unroofed buildings and part of the enclosure are shown on the current edition of the OS 1:10000 map (1974).
Information from RCAHMS (SAH) 12 August 1997


Information provided by Western Isles Council Sites & Monuments Record, January 2006.

Further information is given below by Chris Burgess, Archaeologist after a site visit on 2 September, 2006

Cultivation, settlement and shielings, Eastaper

Located on west facing slopes above the southern shore of Loch Eastapair is an area of extensive feannagan or lazy-beds. These are the irregular, round-sectioned beds of the pre-crofting period and by form could date to any period back to prehistory. Their location is interesting however as they are at least 2 kilometres inland of where most such development and cultivation is usually found. Also, wile covering quite an extensive area (perhaps 500x500 metres, or 25 hectares) this cultivation is actually localised (enclosed within a substantial turf head-dyke) and not part of wider tradition of such farming in the immediate vicinity.

The location and isolated nature of this are of lazy-beds suggests that it represents a phase of population expansion and possibly pressure, where new areas of the island were investigated to provide suitable land for cultivation. While a number of such periods are known to have occurred right into the 19th Century, it seems likely that this particular area relates to an early, possibly medieval phase of expansion. The reason for this conclusion is the presence at the heart of the lazy-beds, above the southern shores of the loch, of a multi-cellular structure (or long house) primarily constructed of turf. This building is similar to others seen on sites believed to be medieval in date. It is possible that this area of settlement dates to the climatic 'amelioration' (improvement) of the 12th/13th Century, identified in the environmental records of the Island's west coast and Loch Roag area. During this period it is believed that a warming of the average temperatures in the order 2-3 degrees would have been enough to lead to population pressure and the search for permanent farming grounds in areas previously uncultivated since early-prehistory and never again since. If this is the case at Eastaper then it supports the assertion of local oral tradition that the site is the 'oldest village' in the area.

The site has also been used extensively as a shieling ground. A number of such structures were identified (at least 13) of various forms and constructions. This suggests that the site has been used regularly as a summer grazing pasture from the late-medieval/post medieval period through to the recent crofting period. Constructions include those that we believe to be the remains of 'bee-hive' cells and more traditional rectangular shielings constructed both of turf, stone and turf and stone.


Record Type: Historical/ Archaeological Sites
Type: Enclosure
SMR Record ID: MWE133798
Grid Ref Northing: 923700
Grid Ref Easting: 133200
Record Maintained By: CECL
Subject Id: 31438