The Falkland Islands and South Atlantic
Shanties, Gun Hill Shanty


  • Blue Mountain Shanty, Fox Bay
  • Jimmy Duncan-going-fencing, Chartres, late 1960's



Shepherd’s Shanties were/are temporary accommodation for shepherds on seasonal work including long sheep drives and lamb marking. Thus they were generally built at a distance of a day’s sheep drive. They had a gear shed, dog kennels, a small close paddock and pen for the horses and sometimes a palenque for mutton and dog meat.
Shanties were very basic (no bathrooms) usually one main room with a table and bench seats, and one bedroom with two-tier bunks often with sheepskins to lie on (greatly favoured by mice) and blankets. There might be a small porch for boots. As with other camp buildings most shanties were made of timber frame clad in iron or weather boarding and there would be a couple of very small windows. Corrugated (galvanised) iron was invariably used for roofing. Despite their construction many shanties, with a little care, are still standing today.

Cooking was often in a shadro, a huge cast iron pot capable of holding an entire sheep. This was placed under the open grate and hot ashes stoked over it. The meat would be well cooked when the shepherds arrived in the evening. Kettles and frying pans were also cast iron and stood on the open grate. Light was from ‘Tilly’ lamps and paraffin. Water was collected from the roof in a rain barrel or butt and usually stood outside the back door.
Shanties were used for other tasks too that might involve men being away from home for some time. There were shanties by peat bogs that might be some distance from a settlement where men could live while on contract peat cutting. There were also portable shanties or ‘caravans’ fixed on to sleighs which were often used for fencing miles away in to the camp. This could be moved along as the fence progressed.

Some shanties have been renovated and are now holiday homes.

Photographs: Shadro by Fred Strebeigh, others by D Hurst and Robbie Maddocks
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