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 follow us on our social media, or look at our Calendar and News pages.
The Shieling Project is available for exclusive hire for a variety of group events. Expect a personal welcome in beautiful surroundings with simple but beautiful off grid facilities.
You can hire the whole site and make use of our outstanding location and simple but beautiful off-grid facilities. We are 2km from any other habitation guaranteeing a safe bubble for your and your team! We have accommodation for up to 36 people in our bespoke bothies, a large ‘classroom’ space which can easily fit everyone and includes chairs, tables and AV equipment. Other facilities include a lovely communal kitchen space for cooking, two compost toilet areas, shower room and pizza oven. We are keen to host groups who would like to use our site for organisational development or events like staff training, or would like our input into sustainability and environmental leadership. Running your event at the Shieling Project can inspire your group, or give your staff ideas for new ways of working. Being at the Shieling Project also gives the chance to see and live a sustainable lifestyle which can compliment the theme of your event or the topic of your meeting.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
When you think back to your stay, what do you remember?
“I remember having the time of my life and just feeling so alive and free. I though the compost toilets were a great idea and they should be at school”Family camp visitor 2022
We have been inspired to make changes to how we live
“Thanks again for the Family hol, it came at just the right time for us, it was really refreshing to be in such an environment with like-minded folk. We have been inspired to make changes to how we live and eat and hope to start keeping chickens/ducks.”Family camp visitor 2018
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.
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.
Social PurposeSocial PurposeSocial Purpose
Shieling Project featured in Visit ScotlandExperience the Highlands in a new way with the Shieling Project, an award-winning off-grid social enterprise. A week of craft, outdoor living and Gaelic song offers the chance to let the local culture get under your skin.See Full Article
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.
Meet The Team!
Dr Sam Harrison
Project Director/ ManagerDr Sam Harrison (Manager) is a specialist in place-based education. He has been leading outdoor learning in Scotland for ten years, and takes a lot of joy from going out into land with school groups. Sam has a wide variety of training and qualifications r (...)
Read all posts by Dr Sam Harrison
Dr Sam Harrison
Manager and Project DirectorDr Sam Harrison (Manager) is a specialist in place-based education. He has been leading outdoor learning in Scotland for ten years, and takes a lot of joy from going out into land with school groups. Sam has a wide variety of training and qualifications r (...)
Read all posts by Dr Sam Harrison
Timber Craft InstructrorJames Chitty is a designer, maker, carpenter, and artist based in Moray James trained in Furniture Design at Edinburgh College of Art and Rhode Island School of Design and has spent the last 20 years working on all kinds of projects, mostly in Scotland. H (...)
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DirectorJean Langhorne has been involved in the Shieling Project, as a Director, since its inception in 2013. Although she is a Zoology graduate, she initially worked in the arts for about 8 years; in community dance and theatre-in-education. Eventually, she end (...)
Read all posts by Jean Langhorne
Advisory GroupPam Rodway has worked in organic farming and earth-based teaching since she left the University of Edinburgh in the early 1970s. On her journey she has met many very inspiring people, including Lady Eve Balfour, Wendell Berry, Carlo Petrini and Satish Kum (...)
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DirectorJane is currently a Secondary school Teacher but has worked widely in Museum Education and Arts Administration since 1994. She has wide experience of creating placed-based content for the secondary curriculum and has encouraged schools to engage more wide (...)
Read all posts by Jane Summers
Project DirectorKat Lee is a former paediatric nurse and FE lecturer in health and social care. She grew up on the West Coast, near Balmacara; went to Hull University to do nurse training and then moved back to the Highlands with her husband and children in 2013. After (...)
Read all posts by Kat Lee