The Iconic Shepherd’s Hut, What Are They?

A shepherd’s hut in the English downlands in the 1800s would have been a typical and inconspicuous sight. The shepherds parked them and moved on around the middle of the 1960s.

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Just twenty years ago, the shepherds cottages that were abandoned and scattered throughout the countryside were long gone. Few people make it. The intriguing evolution of shepherds’ huts from transportable rural “sheds on wheels” to opulent and extremely costly outdoor lodging is remarkable; the initial huts were much smaller and less comfortable.

Considering that these modern “shepherd’s huts” are more akin to railroad carriages than the traditional 12 by 6 foot house on cast iron wheels, many rural historians wonder why they are still referred to as such.

But a flourishing business has emerged in the last several years, producing a variety of shepherd’s huts for sporadic usage in the garden. a vacation rental for agricultural diversification plans, or an outside workspace for independent contractors. You have an abundance of options when it comes to weekend getaways on the AirBnB website.

A Shepherd’s Hut: What Is It?

Who you ask will determine how to respond to this. Nowadays, most people consider a shepherd’s hut to be a more elegant and portable version of a vacation house, a step up from glamping.

Because they provide the ideal blend of traditional country life and modern amenities, shepherd’s huts are highly sought-after in the vacation industry. They may also be erected in breathtaking settings where a typical home would not be feasible to construct and are far less expensive.

A shepherd’s hut is typically mobile, however some modern variations with solid foundations nevertheless go by the same name. A wheeled shepherd’s house is made of metal, wood, or a combination of the two, and it resembles a cross between a railroad wagon and a caravan.

Where Did the Shepherd’s Hut Come From?

A shepherd’s hut was formerly a moveable building with four iron wheels that allowed the shepherd to roam the field with his sheep during lambing season.

In addition, he kept an eye out for poachers and foxes, as well as to lamb the ewes. For lambs that were unfortunate or orphaned, the shepherd’s hut provided warmth, cover, and a place to stay.

A shepherd’s hut was, in essence, a wooden shelter on wheels, as opposed to its opulent, contemporary equivalents, which represent the pinnacle of luxury.

The shepherd was on hand 24/7 because they were a transient, seasonal mobile shelter—luxurious, that’s for sure! Many were too little to fit through a typical field gate, measuring an average of only twelve feet by six feet. The modern version, on the other hand, is much bigger and better suited for caravan-style lodging.


Shepherd’s huts, or wagons as they are often called, have been a part of English and French agriculture since the 16th century and are a symbol of the significance of wool to both countries’ economy.

One of the first written accounts of shepherd’s huts may be found in Leonard Mascal’s “Government of Cattel,” published in 1596. As a “cabbin going upon a wheel for to remove here and there at his pleasure,” the shepherd’s hut is described in this text.

The 18th century saw the peak of the popularity of shepherd’s huts, but as agricultural methods evolved and grew more mechanized, the requirement for the shepherd to be outside with his flock started to shift.

They survived in isolated parts of northern England, such as Cumbria, where the geography and delayed introduction of electricity to farms allowed them to continue being useful.


Even if wood shepherd’s huts are becoming more and more common, tin shepherd’s huts have a far more classic appearance. The first huts were typically made of a timber frame with a roof composed of corrugated tin that covered the outside.

Smaller wheels on the front of the earliest huts helped with maneuverability, and they frequently included a turntable chassis with a drawbar or towbar to physically move the hut to a new site.

Modern shepherd’s huts with rolling chassis are the typical kind intended to remain fixed.

If it does need to be transported, a trolley jack is used to elevate the front two wheels off the ground, and the bar is then secured to a ball and towing hitch system, much like a caravan or livestock trailer.

Originally horse drawn

Huts that must be completely transportable require a rotating chassis. This mounts beneath the typical frame and enables steering similar to that of an ordinary automobile to be applied to both front wheels.

Since the new huts are often hefty, a 4×4 or similar vehicle is required to tow them.

The original huts’ corrugated iron roofs were curved, purposefully designed to let rainwater drain off.

Occasionally, the shepherd would bring any lambs that were not doing well or were orphaned inside the hut with him, and the shepherd would use felt and lambswool to insulate the felt roof.

Since the cabin was horse-drawn, the cast iron wheels came with shafts at first. Many of the original huts still have their iron drawbars from when they were being hauled by tractors.