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Prehistoric stone hut circle settlement, irregular aggregate field system,five enclosures,a well,a cairnfield and trackways on St John's and Threlkeld Commons

A Scheduled Monument in St John's Castlerigg and Wythburn, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.6075 / 54°36'26"N

Longitude: -3.0405 / 3°2'25"W

OS Eastings: 332890.999982

OS Northings: 524084.827391

OS Grid: NY328240

Mapcode National: GBR 7H65.K4

Mapcode Global: WH81D.8GD6

Entry Name: Prehistoric stone hut circle settlement, irregular aggregate field system,five enclosures,a well,a cairnfield and trackways on St John's and Threlkeld Commons

Scheduled Date: 17 May 1978

Last Amended: 4 August 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013383

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23791

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: St John's Castlerigg and Wythburn

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: St John's in the Vale and Wythburn

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes a prehistoric stone hut circle settlement within which
are seven hut circles and a well; an associated irregular aggregate field
system, five enclosures, a cairnfield and two trackways. It is located on a
north facing slope of fellside immediately above Threlkeld Granite Quarry, and
extends over parts of St John's and Threlkeld Commons.
The prehistoric hut circle settlement consists of the drystone wall
foundations of six small sub-rectangular enclosures, the northern three of
which are very distinct. The western and central of these three northern
enclosures contain partly mutilated hut circles whilst in addition the central
enclosure also has a well preserved hut circle adjacent to its entrance. The
southern of the three enclosures that form the hut circle settlement is more
irregular in shape than its northern counterparts. There is a hut circle
immediately adjacent to the most southerly of these irregular enclosures and
two further hut circles can be seen immediately to the east, one of which has
an entrance which opens into a courtyard enclosed by low walls. A trackway
enters the western of the three southern enclosures and continues through the
adjacent enclosure, passing in front of a well, before continuing in a south
easterly direction through part of the field system. To the north and east of
the stone hut circle settlement there is an extensive irregular aggregate
field system consisting of lengths of turf covered drystone wall banks and
field boundaries. Within this field system there are five distinct enclosures
which are thought to have been used as stock pens. The largest is located
immediately south east of the hut circle settlement and measures c.40m by 25m.
The other enclosures are considerably smaller; one lies a short distance north
east of the settlement, two are situated adjacent to each other c.200m east of
the settlement, and one lies approximately 260m north east of the settlement.
A second trackway runs along the northern edge of the settlement and continues
along the northern edge of the largest enclosure within the field system. On
the lower ground to the north and north east of the settlement, and at the
edges of the field system, there is a cairnfield which includes about 50
cairns measuring between 3m-8m in diameter and up to 0.6m high. These cairns
are largely thought to represent field clearance as part of the preparation of
the fellside for agriculture; however, limited antiquarian investigation of a
small number of the cairns found charcoal which the excavator suggested
indicates some of the cairns are funerary monuments containing burial after
cremation. Limited antiquarian investigation also found traces of a hearth in
one of the hut circles and a quern stone in another of the hut circles.
All modern field boundaries and gateposts are excluded from the scheduling but
the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Stone hut circles and hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of
prehistoric farmers. Most date from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). The stone-
based round-houses consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor
area; the remains of the turf, thatch or heather roofs are not preserved. The
huts may occur singly or in small or large groups and may lie in the open or
be enclosed by a bank of earth or stone. Frequently traces of their associated
field systems may be found immediately around them. These may be indicated by
areas of clearance cairns and/or the remains of field walls and other
enclosures. The longevity of use of hut circle settlements and their
relationship with other monument types provides 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.

Irregular aggregate field systems are one of several methods of field layout
known to have been employed from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c.2000 BC
- AD 400). They comprise a collection of field plots, generally lacking
conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields of varying shapes
and sizes, bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches or fences. They
are an important element of the existing landscape and are representative of
farming practices over a long period.
Within the upland landscape of Cumbria there are many discrete plots of land,
or enclosures, enclosed by stone walls or banks of stone and earth, most of
which date to the Bronze Age. They were constructed as stock pens or as
protected areas for crop growing. Their size and form may therefore vary
depending upon their function. Their variation in form, longevity and relation
to other monument classes provide important information on the diversity of
social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities.
Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one
another. They often consist of clearance cairns, built with stone cleared from
the surrounding landsurface to improve its use for agriculture. However,
funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without excavation
it may be impossible to determine which cairns contain burials. They were
constructed from Neolithic times (from c.3400 BC), although the majority
appear to be the result of field clearance which began during the Bronze Age.
Cairnfields provide important information on the development of land use and
agricultural practices. They also retain information on the diversity of
beliefs and social organisation during the prehistoric period.
The prehistoric stone hut circle settlement and its associated irregular
aggregate field system, enclosures, well, trackways and cairnfield survive
well. Apart from limited antiquarian investigation, the destruction of a small
number of cairns by quarrying and the construction of some modern field
boundaries, the monument remains unencumbered by modern development. It
contains one of the most complex and diverse groups of prehistoric monument
classes to be found on the Cumbrian fells. Together these monuments represent
evidence of long term management and exploitation of the landscape and
indicate the importance of this area in prehistoric times and the diversity of
monument classes to be found here.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Dymond, C W, Hodgson, T H, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in An Ancient Village Near Threlkeld, , Vol. II, (1902), 38-52
Dymond, C W, Hodgson, T H, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in An Ancient Village Near Threlkeld, , Vol. II, (1902), 38-52
Dymond, C W, Hodgson, T H, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in An Ancient Village Near Threlkeld, , Vol. II, (1902), 38-52
Dymond, C W, Hodgson, T H, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in An Ancient Village Near Threlkeld, , Vol. II, (1902), 38-52
Hay, T, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Threlkeld Settlement, , Vol. XLIII, (1943), 20-4
Hay, T, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Threlkeld Settlement, , Vol. XLIII, (1943), 20-4
Hay, T, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Threlkeld Settlement, , Vol. XLIII, (1943), 20-24
Other
Raymond,F., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Cairnfields, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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