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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.

NORTH RONALDSAY, SHEEP DYKE AND ASSOCIATED PUNDSReference: LB46400

Status: Designated

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Summary

Information

  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 16/09/1999

Location

  • Local Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Planning Authority: Orkney Islands
  • Parish: Cross And Burness

National Grid Reference

  • NGRHY 76499 54021
  • Coordinates376499, 1054021

Description

Circa 1832 with later alterations. 12-13 mile-long, roughly 6 foot high drystone island perimeter wall, incorporating numerous window-like openings; associated stone-built circular-plan 'punds' situated to N around Dennis Head.

Statement of Special Interest

The sheep dyke around North Ronaldsay is a unique and important structure, probably the largest drystone construction conceived of as a single entity in the world. Ownership of sheep was common with crofters being allocated numbers according to the size of the smallholding. The dyke was designed to keep the sheep, for the majority of the year, on the foreshore where they would 'graze' on seaweed. At lambing time, (May until August) the breeding ewes and their lambs were taken inside the wall and allowed to graze with other domestic animals. A sheep court was set up to oversee the maintenance of the flock and its welfare, Tulloch noting that, 'regulations covering the authorised allocation, management of the flock, and the maintenance of the sheep-dyke were worked out and agreed between the laird and the crofters in 1839....'. The nine circular 'punds', or pens, which can be found at the north end of the island served a particular purpose. 'Punding' was carried out six times a year as a communal exercise, in order to complete tasks related to the upkeep and organisation of the flock. The first, called the 'scoring punding', occurred in February when the sheep were numbered and allocated. The second and third were for 'rooing' or clipping/shearing and the next for dipping. The final two pundings were carried out to select animals for slaughter. With reference to the construction of the dyke, Tulloch notes that, 'Both the age and quality of masonry of the dyke varies greatly. Some of it is very old, while other parts like the section known as the 'moonlight dyke' and some of the outer field dykes at Dennis Head and Twinyas are of more recent construction...[some] sections which have to act as a rampart for houses located near the high water mark are generally substantially constructed, and may even be dove-tailed into the rock'. The maintenance of the dyke was traditionally overseen by the sheep court who ensured that regular repairs were carried out. The late 19th century saw the island's population reach around 500, when each farmer took a hand in the repairs.

References

Bibliography

R G Lamb, SANDAY AND NORTH RONALDSAY: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF TWO OF THE NORTH ISLES OF ORKNEY, Archaeological Sites and Monuments, 11 RCAHMS; A Ritchie, EXPLORING SCOTLAND'S HERITAGE, ORKNEY AND SHETLAND, (1985), p73; P A Tulloch, A WINDOW ON NORTH RONALDSAY, (reprinted 1995), pp 95-105.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/shep-dec2011.pdf, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see www.historicenvironment.scot.

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support.

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Printed: 29/05/2016 00:58