Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Prehistoric enclosure containing ten clearance cairns south west of Boat How, Burnmoor

A Scheduled Monument in Eskdale, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.4184 / 54°25'6"N

Longitude: -3.271 / 3°16'15"W

OS Eastings: 317620.315755

OS Northings: 503299.834695

OS Grid: NY176032

Mapcode National: GBR 5KLB.MW

Mapcode Global: WH713.Q6KL

Entry Name: Prehistoric enclosure containing ten clearance cairns south west of Boat How, Burnmoor

Scheduled Date: 21 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008537

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23698

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 containing ten clearance cairns.
It is located on a relatively flat area of open fellside to the south west of
Boat How, and lies within a large area of open moorland known as Burnmoor
which contains an abundance of prehistoric remains.
The enclosure has a boundary on its north and east sides formed by a wall or
stone bank measuring up to 4.7m wide and 0.4m high and fragmented into six
separate lengths. There is an entrance on the eastern side leading into an
enclosed area of approximately 0.75ha. In the western side of the enclosure
there are ten clearance cairns ranging between 2.15m - 3.85m in diameter and
0.1m - 0.3m in height.

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 land surface 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 south west of Boat How survives
reasonably well and is a good example of this class of monument. This monument
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. It contrasts markedly with the primary type of
cairnfield found elsewhere on Burnmoor and illustrates well the differing
prehistoric land management strategies. This monument lies close to other
prehistoric monuments on Burnmoor and 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), 12-13
Leech, R H, The Lake District National Park Survey - Burnmoor, (1992), 12-13

Source: Historic England

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