Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cairnfield, on eastern edge of Ros Hill Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Chillingham, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.5284 / 55°31'42"N

Longitude: -1.8488 / 1°50'55"W

OS Eastings: 409642.950681

OS Northings: 626084.856324

OS Grid: NU096260

Mapcode National: GBR H4JJ.J1

Mapcode Global: WHC0X.K9VP

Entry Name: Cairnfield, on eastern edge of Ros Hill Wood

Scheduled Date: 10 March 1969

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006461

English Heritage Legacy ID: ND 454

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Chillingham

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Chatton with Chillingham

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a Bronze Age cairnfield situated on the summit and upper slopes of Willie Law. The cairnfield extends across an area of approximately 12.4ha and contains at least 70 cairns, which vary in diameter from 2m to 11m. Several of the cairns exhibit visible kerbstones, which indicate them to be burial cairns. Comparison with other sites suggests that the cairnfield will also contain clearance cairns.

PastScape Monument No:- 5543
NMR:- NU02NE34
Northumberland HER:- 3419

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one another. They often consist largely of clearance cairns, built with stone cleared from the surrounding landsurface to improve its use for agriculture, and on occasion their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots. However, funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without excavation it may be impossible to determine which cairns contain burials. Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period (from c.3400 BC), although the majority of examples appear to be the result of field clearance which began during the earlier Bronze Age and continued into the later Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). The considerable longevity and variation in the size, content and associations of cairnfields provide important information on the development of land use and agricultural practices. Cairnfields also retain information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the prehistoric period.
The cairnfield, on eastern edge of Ros Hill Wood is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits within, beneath and between the burial and clearance cairns. The importance of the monument is enhanced by the survival of further cairnfields close to the west and south west and the large cairnfield on Sandyford Moor to the north east. Taken together they represent a landscape of concentrated Bronze Age activity focusing on both field clearance for agriculture and burial of the dead. As such the monument is particularly representative of the period and will contribute to our knowledge and understanding of Bronze Age ritual and funerary practice.

Source: Historic England

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