Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric enclosure, hut circle and adjacent cairnfield east of Whillan Beck, Burnmoor

A Scheduled Monument in Eskdale, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.4188 / 54°25'7"N

Longitude: -3.2521 / 3°15'7"W

OS Eastings: 318848.733019

OS Northings: 503317.556305

OS Grid: NY188033

Mapcode National: GBR 5KQB.QR

Mapcode Global: WH714.06N9

Entry Name: Prehistoric enclosure, hut circle and adjacent cairnfield east of Whillan Beck, Burnmoor

Scheduled Date: 18 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008534

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23695

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Eskdale

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Eskdale St Catherine

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a prehistoric enclosure which contains a hut circle and
a cairnfield lying predominantly to the east and west of the enclosure. It is
located on sloping fellside at the eastern end of a large area of open
moorland known as Burnmoor which contains an abundance of prehistoric remains.
The enclosure is sub-oval in shape and is identified as a stock pen. It is
entered from the south west and measures approximately 17m by 8m internally
with a boundary wall of drystone construction three courses high and up to
2.5m wide. The south eastern arm of the boundary wall projects southwards
beyond the entrance in two separate lengths for a further 26m. The north west
arm of the boundary wall widens out at the entrance to accommodate a small hut
circle about 4m in diameter which is also entered from the south west. A short
distance to the west of the enclosure, and forming part of the cairnfield, are
two sub-circular cairns. They are both 0.2m high and measure 6.5m by 4.1m and
4.8m by 3.6m. Further to the west is a group of eight cairns most of which
are round in shape and measure between 2.9m-5m in diameter, while to the east
of the enclosure there is a more dispersed group of 13 cairns, again round in
shape, ranging from 2m-4m in diameter. Among this eastern group there is a low
drystone wall measuring 14.6m long by 2m wide and up to 0.5m high which is
aligned WSW-ENE; this is interpreted as a field wall associated with the

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Within the upland landscape of Cumbria there are many discrete plots of land
enclosed by stone walls or banks of stone and earth, most of which date to the
Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC), though earlier and later examples also exist. They
were constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop growing and were
sometimes subdivided to accommodate stock and hut circle dwellings for farmers
and herdsmen. The size and form of enclosures may therefore vary depending
upon their particular function. Their variation in form, longevity and
relationship to other monument classes provide important information on the
diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric
communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a
substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of
protection. Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity
to one another. They often consist largely of clearance cairns, built with
stone from the surrounding landsurface to improve its use for agriculture, and
on occasion their distribution 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.3400BC), 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 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
The prehistoric enclosure and cairnfield east of Whillan Beck survives
reasonably well. It contains a developed type of cairnfield; that is one where
the land has been subjected to initial land clearance then utilised further -
in this case by the construction of an enclosure and a hut circle. It
contrasts markedly with the primary type of cairnfield found elsewhere on
Burnmoor and illustrates well differing prehistoric land management
strategies. The monument lies close to other prehistoric monuments on Burnmoor
and this indicates the importance of this area in prehistoric times.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Leech, R H, The Lake District National Park Survey - Burnmoor, (1992), 6
Leech, R H, The Lake District National Park Survey - Burnmoor, (1992), 6
Leech, R H, The Lake District National Park Survey - Burnmoor, (1992), 5-7
Raymond,F., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Cairnfields, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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