Historic Scotland Data Website
Results New Search

NORTH RONALDSAY, SHEEP DYKE AND ASSOCIATED PUNDS (Ref:46400)

This building is in the Orkney Islands Council and the Cross And Burness Parish. It is a category A building and was listed on 16/09/1999.

Group Items: N/A, Group Cat: N/A, Map Ref: HY 7600 5400.

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.

Notes

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

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.

© Crown copyright, Historic Scotland. All rights reserved. Mapping information derived from Ordnance Survey digital mapping products under Licence No. 100017509 2012 . Data extracted from Scottish Ministers' Statutory List on . Listing applies equally to the whole building or structure at the address set out in bold at the top of the list entry. This includes both the exterior and the interior, whether or not they are mentioned in the 'Information Supplementary to the Statutory List'. Listed building consent is required for all internal and external works affecting the character of the building. The local planning authority is responsible for determining where listed building consent will be required and can also advise on issues of extent or "curtilage" of the listing, which may cover items remote from the main subject of the listing such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. or interior fixtures. All category C(S) listings were revised to category C on 3rd September 2012. This was a non-statutory change. All enquiries relating to proposed works to a listed building or its setting should be addressed to the local planning authority in the first instance. All other enquiries should be addressed to: Listing & Designed Landscapes Team, Historic Scotland, Room G.51, Longmore House, Salisbury Place, EDINBURGH, EH9 1SH. Tel: +44 (0)131 668 8701 / 8705. Fax: +44 (0)131 668 8765. e-mail: hs.listing@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. Web: http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/historicandlistedbuildings.

Results New Search

Buildings are assigned to one of three categories according to their relative importance. All listed buildings receive equal legal protection, and protection applies equally to the interior and exterior of all listed buildings regardless of category.

ACategory A

Buildings of national or international importance, either architectural or historic, or fine little-altered examples of some particular period, style or building type. (Approximately 8% of the total).

BCategory B

Buildings of regional or more than local importance, or major examples of some particular period, style or building type which may have been altered. (Approximately 51% of the total).

C(S)Category C(S)

Buildings of local importance, lesser examples of any period, style, or building type, as originally constructed or moderately altered; and simple traditional buildings which group well with others in categories A and B. (Approximately 41% of the total).