Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.

NORTH RONALDSAY, SHEEP DYKE AND ASSOCIATED PUNDSLB46400

Status: Designated

Documents

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Summary

Category
A
Date Added
16/09/1999
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
Planning Authority
Orkney Islands
Parish
Cross And Burness
NGR
HY 76499 54021
Coordinates
376499, 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 Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. 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 subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at www.historicenvironment.scot/advice-and-support. You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at designations@hes.scot.

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