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Cairnfield including ring cairn and cup and ring marked rocks 500m north west of Snook Bank

A Scheduled Monument in Longframlington, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.3426 / 55°20'33"N

Longitude: -1.8022 / 1°48'7"W

OS Eastings: 412642.04491

OS Northings: 605410.899433

OS Grid: NU126054

Mapcode National: GBR H6VN.MN

Mapcode Global: WHC1Q.9Z15

Entry Name: Cairnfield including ring cairn and cup and ring marked rocks 500m north west of Snook Bank

Scheduled Date: 15 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015635

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24660

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Longframlington

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Longframlington with Brinkburn

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes an extensive cairnfield of Bronze Age date which
includes a ring cairn and a group of cup and ring decorated rocks.
The site is situated on a fell sandstone ridge on the south slope of Glantlees
Hill. It commands extensive views to the south, east and north west. The
outcropping sandstone is decorated with a series of incised cup and ring mark
decorations. The decorated outcrop is approximately 40m by 15m in area. The
decorations are mostly single cups, but there are also single and double
rings, basin cups and grooves. Some of the rock art has clearly been removed
by later quarrying activity and a number of voids are visible in the rock face
where stone for millstones has been removed. In addition to the rock outcrop,
a number of boulders and some smaller blocks are decorated with rock art; many
of these are closely associated with individual cairns within the cairnfield
and appear to act as markers for the cairns.
The cairnfield forms two clusters, one concentration lies on the flatter
hilltop and a second is clustered on the slope around the sandstone outcrop;
within this second cluster is a discrete group of six round cairns which
appear to be focused around a ring cairn. A total of 29 cairns have been
identified; their mounds range in size from 11.2m to 2.5m in diameter and up
to a maximum height of 0.75m. A number of the cairns have clearly visible
kerbstones and one of the cairns has the remains of a stone cist visible
within the centre of the mound. One of the cairns at the eastern end of the
distribution has a cup marked stone with a raised central boss incorporated
within it. At least 10 cairns are located adjacent to cup marked boulders. The
largest cairn within the group lies close to the western edge of the
cairnfield and is connected to a length of prehistoric walling. This walling
is 17.4m long, up to 2m wide and 0.35m high and may mark the western boundary
of the cairnfield. At the south eastern extent of the cairnfield, the ring
cairn lies below the sandstone escarpment. It consists of a stone ring 1m wide
and up to 8.5m in diameter, the inner kerb stones are clearly visible and
there may be an entrance to the south east. Three small cairns mark out a
triangular area to the north of the ring cairn, and a further three cairns
situated on false crests to the north of these form a visual link with the
main cairnfield. Two of these cairns have cup and ring marked boulders placed
immediately adjacent to them.
A row of early 19th century boundary stones lie within the southern end of the
monument. They are listed Grade II but are also included in the scheduling as
any works on them might disturb archaeological remains.

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

Prehistoric rock art is found on natural 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 and ring' marking where expanses of small cup-like hollows are pecked
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 of 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.
Frequently they are found close to contemporary burial monuments and the
symbols are also found on portable stones placed directly next to burials or
incorporated in burial mounds. Around 800 examples of prehistoric rock-art
have been recorded in England. This is unlikely to be a realistic reflection
of the number carved in prehistory. Many will have been overgrown or destroyed
in activities such as quarrying. All positively identified prehistoric rock
art sites exhibiting a significant group of designs will normally be
identified as nationally important.

Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one
another. They often consist largely of clearance cairns, however, funerary
cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without excavation it may be
impossible to determine which cairns contain burials. Clarance cairns were
constructed from the Neolithic period (c.3400BC) and continued into the later
Bronze Age (up to 700BC). 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.
A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of
stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a central hollow area. They are
found mainly in upland areas and often occur in pairs or small groups. They
date to the Early and Middle Bronze Age and are interpreted as ritual
monuments. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood,
but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and others
containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities
associated with burial rituals. As a rare monument class all positively
identified ring cairns are identified as nationally important.
The cairnfield and cup and ring marked rocks at Snook Bank survive in a good
state of preservation. It is clear that at least some of the cairns had a
funerary purpose and that the site retains significant features associated
with ritual activity involving the burial of the dead. In addition the site
preserves a rare and clearly defined relationship between cairns and rock art.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland Volume 2, (1992), 48-51
Van Hoeck, M, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in The Rock Art at Millstone Burn, Northumberland, , Vol. XIX, (1991), 7-24
Northumberland County Council & Newcastle Unit, Glantlees Farm Archaeological Survey, 1996, unpublished farm survey
Northumberland County Council & Newcastle Unit, Glantlees Farm Archaeological Survey, 1996, unpublished farm survey

Source: Historic England

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