About the Shieling Project

Come outdoors and get stuck in to shieling life with us at our off-grid learning centres in Struy!

About the Shieling Project

The Shieling Project is an off-grid learning centre in the Highlands of Scotland. The project is all about outdoor living – from looking after our livestock to making real buildings, from weaving baskets to making burgers from the meat we have raised here. You can help with seasonal tasks like planting, moving the cattle, making hay, or harvesting the crops. The tradition of the shieling where folk lived outdoors all summer herding the cattle, gives us a window onto the past, but also helps us look forward to a sustainable future.

Alongside our schools provision, we offer lots of courses and events throughout the year from craft weeks to family camps.

There are so many parts to the Shieling Project but at our core is a belief that a more sustainable future is possible. We provide learning experiences that are hands on, that connect generations, that encourage resilience and strengthen community.

About Us

What is the Shieling project about? Director and founder - Sam Harrison tells us more.

Meet The Team!

Supporting the Project

We are a social enterprise. The project is a not-for-profit organisation and our community impact is monitored on a yearly basis. That means we charge for our services but all that money goes into running the project. During our start-up phases we are relying also on funding and donations. We use the donation system ‘Stripe’.


There are lots of ways to volunteer at the Shieling Project. You can come during our volunteer days held during the week, or you can come to a volunteer weekend. If you really like it you can come and live at the project and support the staff delivering our residentials and holidays.   The directors of the project are volunteers, as are our advisors. So if you feel like you have skills that could help us run the Shieling Project please get in touch.For more information on volunteering opportunities keep an eye on our socials.


What is a shieling?

The shieling is a traditional practice of moving up to the high ground or moorland with livestock to live there for the summer.

The shieling is a traditional practice of moving up to the high ground or moorland with livestock to live there for the summer.

Young people had a fundamental role at the shieling: they took on new responsibilities, learning about themselves and the landscape beyond their homes. It was a time for making butter and cheese, stocking up on materials from the hills: dyes, peat, heather, and for revisiting the stories that defined the weave of people and place. Shieling life was well established for at least two thousand years in parts of Scotland, and is still a fairly recent memory for some in the Western Isles.

Delving into the past at the project

The Shieling Project is dedicated to learning more about this rich tradition. We have undertaken an archaeological survey and dig of our nearest shieling at Allt Moraig. Here we discovered the ruins of 27 structures and during the dig we excavated two of these more fully. We are also gathering stories of shieling life from all over Scotland, with a focus on our local area. We hope to continue this archaeological and historical research and match it up with our experiences milking and grazing our cattle.

More on shielings

At the risk of over-simplifying the ‘Shieling’, it might be defined as:

  • a grazing area in the hills, away from arable and cultivated ground and occupied seasonally in the months of summer
  • as a summer dwelling, in the form of a small structure of stone and turf
  • as a legal entity, included in grants and titles to land
  • a way of life, recalled in the memories of older generations and in stories songs and oral tradition

A family’s main dwelling was in the ‘wintertown’ located in the low, arable ground and arable, and in the summertime they and their animals moved from ‘wintertown’ to summer pasture in the high ground. These ‘shielings’ were occupied for any time between six and fourteen weeks, perhaps more commonly nine to ten weeks. In May or early June, most inhabitants of the township made an organised and communal move to the shielings. Families carried all their necessities and tools, and the shieling huts were repaired for occupation.

The menfolk then returned to the wintertown to carry on the farming work of the summer months, repairing and thatching houses, and cutting and drying the peats for winter fuel. Women and children occupied the shieling for the weeks of summer, herding the animals to ensure they had the best of the summer grazing to put them into good shape, and milking and butter and cheese making. Personal accounts of life in the Shieling on the experience of being ‘on holiday’, of gaining a sense of wellbeing and renewal, and of a freedom otherwise unknown among the constraints of normal everyday life. Gaelic songs celebrate this freedom located within a strong sense of place.