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The history of shepherd huts

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The badger faced sheep of Tithe Barn shepherd hutsIt is widely believed that shepherd’s huts are of relatively recent origin, dating back to the early 19th or possibly late 18th century. However, researchers have discovered a reference to a wheeled shepherd’s hut in a publication from the 16th century, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1!

Designs of huts vary but their basic function, which was to provide mobile shelter for the shepherd and a storeroom for his tools, pretty much dictated the inside – a simple bed and table, a cupboard for tools and medicines and a stove to keep the whole place wonderfully cosy. The bed would originally have had a straw mattress and may have been across the end of the hut or down one wall, depending on the width of the hut – and the size of the shepherd! Underneath the bed was a cage, called a Lamb Rack, where injured, weak or orphaned lambs could be kept warm and dry and handy for a regular bottle. They continued to serve a very valuable purpose to the farmer until the 1950’s when, unfortunately, most were abandoned and left to rot. Happily they are now enjoying a resurgence, but for different reasons!