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Cairnfield, enclosures, boulder walling, hollow way and carved rocks towards edge of Snowden Carr centred at 370m south east of Crag House

A Scheduled Monument in Askwith, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 53.9572 / 53°57'25"N

Longitude: -1.7294 / 1°43'45"W

OS Eastings: 417852.857327

OS Northings: 451265.578787

OS Grid: SE178512

Mapcode National: GBR JQCP.D6

Mapcode Global: WHC8J.DSQQ

Entry Name: Cairnfield, enclosures, boulder walling, hollow way and carved rocks towards edge of Snowden Carr centred at 370m south east of Crag House

Scheduled Date: 24 April 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014304

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28065

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Askwith

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Weston All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


The monument includes a cairnfield and associated concentration of prehistoric
features. Included in the area are a large sub-rectangular enclosure, two
smaller enclosures, at least 17 cairns of various sizes, several lengths of
boulder walling, a hollow way, and at least 17 carved rocks. There is also a
bare patch of ground on which lumps of lead slag survive. This was produced by
medieval or earlier lead smelting.
This concentration of prehistoric features is situated towards the north east
edge of Snowden Carr, and measures c.426m x c.155m.
The cairns occur throughout the area and range in size from an elongated cairn
17m x 7m down to cairns c.4m in diameter. The cairns are best preserved in the
north western part of the area.
The large sub-rectangular enclosure has an earth and stone bank c.3m wide and
c.0.6m high. The bank is double on the east side of the enclosure.
The two smaller enclosures have rubble banks 1m-2m wide and up to c.0.6m high.
They are more irregular in shape than the large enclosure.
The boulder walling consists of a number of approximately linear rubble banks
1m-2m wide. It is concentrated in the area immediately north west of the large
enclosure, and in the area to its south. The boulder walls are interpreted as
part of a field system contemporary with the large enclosure.
The hollow way is located within the southern group of boulder walls and may
be contemporary with them.
The carved rocks are concentrated to the south of the large enclosure, and on
the ridge to its west. The carvings vary from the extremely complex, such as
that known as the Tree of Life, to carvings consisting of only one cup mark.
The Tree of Life rock has a complex design of c.15 cups connected to a
multi-branched groove which resembles a tree.
Most of the carvings are on well-embedded glacial boulders. Two are on small
rocks in a cairn and one is on a boulder incorporated into boulder walling.
The bare patch with the lead slag is on the crest of the ridge, west of the
large enclosure, in a situation typical of medieval smelting hearths known as
boles or bale hills.

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

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.

Prehistoric field systems in the north of England take a variety of forms.
Regular and irregular types of prehistoric field system are widespread
throughout the Pennine Range. Regular field systems with rectilinear fields
bounded by low rubble banks are particularly typical of the Craven area. The
dating of these is often uncertain, but they are considered to date from the
Iron Age or Romano-British periods. Closer dating may be provided by their
relationships to other classes of monument which were in use for shorter,
known, periods of time.
In the uplands of northern England a wide variety of prehistoric enclosures
may be found. These range from relatively large, regular enclosures with earth
and stone banks, to smaller, irregular areas enclosed by boulder walls. Most
are dated to the Bronze Age, Iron Age, or early Romano-British period
(2000 BC-AD 200). The larger regular enclosures tend to be dated towards the
latter part of this period, and the smaller, irregular enclosures towards the
former part. Their variation in form, longevity, and relationship to other
monument classes provides important information on the diversity of social
organistion and land use among the prehistoric communities.
Prehistoric rock carving is found on natural boulders and rock outcrops in
many areas of upland Britain. It is especially common in the north of England
in Northumberland, Durham, and North and West Yorkshire. The most common form
of decoration is the `cup' marking, where small cup-like hollows are worked
into the surface of the rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more
`rings'. Single pecked lines extending from the cup through the rings may also
exist, providing the design with a `tail'. Other shapes and patterns also
occur but are less frequent. Carvings may occur singly, in small groups, or
may cover extensive areas of rock surface. They date to the Late Neolithic and
Bronze Age periods (2800-c.500 BC) and provide one our most important insights
into prehistoric `art'. The exact meaning of the designs remains unknown, but
they may be interpreted as sacred or religious symbols. All positively
identified prehistoric rock carvings exhibiting a significant group of designs
will normally be identified as nationally important.
Medieval lead smelters include a range of features known from field or
documentary evidence. The commonest type is the bole or bale, a wind-draughted
smelting fire located on an exposed hilltop or crest. Documentary evidence
from Derbyshire suggests that this may have consisted of a rectangular or
circular stone structure, open on one side, within which a large fire was
constructed, using blocks of wood at the base and smaller wood interleaved
with ore above. Boles used wind to provide a draught, and were located
on exposed summits or ridges, normally facing south west. The slags produced
by the bole retained considerable quantities of lead and could be
resmelted at a higher temperature in a smaller enclosed hearth. This could
happen close to the bole site, but often the slag was removed for
resmelting at another site. The lead-rich slags left by medieval bole
smelting were often taken for resmelting in water-powered slag hearths in the
post-medieval period.
Boles are found on exposed sites in and around the Pennine lead-mining fields.
The majority of sites are known from place-name evidence only; scatters of
slag or visibly contaminated ground are unusual, and sites retaining
informative slag distributions, intact tips, or visible structural features
are rare.
This monument includes a cairnfield, both regular and irregular enclosures, a
number of carved rocks, and lines of boulder walling and an associated
hollow way which may form part of a field system. Together, these features
form a major part of the prehistoric landscape on Snowden Carr. The form of
the`Tree of Life' rock carving is unique. In addition, the monument contains a
scatter of slag typical in character, and location, of medieval bole smelting

Source: Historic England

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