Ancient Monuments

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Cairnfield including a funerary cairn, standing stone and three stone banks south of Eller How, Burnmoor

A Scheduled Monument in Eskdale, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.4158 / 54°24'56"N

Longitude: -3.2598 / 3°15'35"W

OS Eastings: 318340.0935

OS Northings: 502986.938

OS Grid: NY183029

Mapcode National: GBR 5KPC.1V

Mapcode Global: WH713.W8WN

Entry Name: Cairnfield including a funerary cairn, standing stone and three stone banks south of Eller How, Burnmoor

Scheduled Date: 27 July 1971

Last Amended: 26 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008538

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23699

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 small cairnfield within which there are eleven cairns,
one funerary cairn, one standing stone, and three stone banks. It is located
on a local high point at the southern end of a small plateau south of Eller
How, and lies within a large area of open moorland known as Burnmoor which
contains an abundance of prehistoric remains. The site is crossed by the main
footpath linking the valleys of Wasdale and Eskdale and is visible from
considerable distances in all directions. The slightly elevated dome on which
the monument lies enables the site to drain naturally rendering it the only
dry spot in the area.
Of the eleven cairns within the cairnfield, seven are sub-circular and range
between 2.6m - 6.5m long by 2.3m - 5.4m wide and 0.15m - 0.35m high, three are
circular and measure between 2.6m - 3.5m in diameter and 0.15m to 0.25m high,
and one is ovoid measuring 3.3m long by 2.8m wide and 0.15m high. Two of the
sub-circular cairns are kerbed with boulders. The funerary cairn lies a short
distance to the west of the path and measures 13m long by 7.3m wide and up to
1.1m high. To the south of the funerary cairn there is the base of a
rectangular standing stone, now broken, but measuring 0.6m high and embedded
in stone packing. North of the funerary cairn there are three separate lengths
of stone bank, two lying to the west of the path and one to the east. These
measure 40m, 29m and 35m respectively and are 2m - 3m wide by 0.25m - 0.35m
high. They are interpreted as part of the field system indicated by the

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

Standing stones are prehistoric ritual or ceremonial monuments with dates
ranging from the Late Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age for the few
surviving examples. They comprise single or paired upright orthostatic slabs,
ranging from under 1m to over 6m high where still erect. They are often
conspicuously sited and close to other contemporary monument classes. They can
be accompanied by various features: many occur in or on the edge of round
barrows, and where excavated, associated subsurface features have included
stone cists, stone settings, and various pits and hollows filled in with earth
containing human bone, cremations, charcoal, flints, pots and pot sherds.
Similar deposits have been found in excavated sockets for standing stones,
which range considerably in depth. Several standing stones also bear cup and
ring marks. Standing stones may have functioned as markers for routeways,
territories, graves or meeting points, but their accompanying features show
they also bore a ritual function and that they form one of several ritual
monument classes of their period that often contain a deposit of cremation and
domestic debris as an integral component. Estimates suggest that about 250
standing stones are known nationally. They are a long-lived class of monument,
highly representative of their period, and all examples except those which are
extensively damaged are considered to be of national importance.
The cairnfield, funerary cairn, standing stone and stone banks south of Eller
How survive reasonably well. The monument contains a number of differing
features and illustrates well the diversity of monument classes which can be
found within a cairnfield. It lies close to other prehistoric monuments on
Burnmoor and thus indicates the importance of this area in prehistoric times.
The funerary cairn lies adjacent to the main path linking two valleys - a
feature paralleled elsewhere within the Lake District National Park - and will
contain undisturbed archaeological deposits within the mound and upon the old
landsurface beneath.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Crawford, G, Archaeological Survey of Copeland, (1983), 38
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell Survey Catalogue, (1992), 21
Bowman, A., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Standing Stones, (1990)
Darvill,T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Bowl Barrows, (1988)
Raymond,F., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Cairnfields, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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