Ancient Monuments

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Bronze Age cairnfield and cup and ring marked stone 550m north west of Middleton Dean

A Scheduled Monument in Ilderton, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.4958 / 55°29'44"N

Longitude: -2.0167 / 2°1'0"W

OS Eastings: 399043.044008

OS Northings: 622445.365814

OS Grid: NT990224

Mapcode National: GBR G4CW.5Q

Mapcode Global: WH9ZW.Z4V5

Entry Name: Bronze Age cairnfield and cup and ring marked stone 550m north west of Middleton Dean

Scheduled Date: 15 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015640

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29310

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Ilderton

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Ilderton St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes a cairnfield of Bronze Age date situated on gently
undulating moorland. The cairnfield, c.250m long, contains at least 15
stone clearance cairns; the mounds vary in size from 2m to 12m in diameter and
up to a maximum height of 1.5m. At least three cairns have a central
depression, probably the result of unrecorded part excavation and are
thought likely to be funerary in origin. Amongst the clearance cairns is an
isolated boulder bearing a single cup and ring mark, now much weathered. The
post and wire fence which crosses the cairnfield is excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath is included.

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

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.

Commonly found in the vicinity of cairnfields are examples of prehistoric rock
art. It is found on natural rock outcrops in many areas of upland Britain and
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'.
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.500BC) 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 on portable stones placed
directly next to burials or incorporated into burial mounds. Around 800
examples of prehistoric rock-art have been recorded in England. This is
unlikely to be a realistic reflection of the nu arved in prehistory. Many will
have been overgrown or destroyed in activities such as quarrying.
The Bronze Age cairnfield and cup and ring marked stone north west of
Middleton Dean are well preserved and will retain significant archaeological
deposits. The monument contains evidence relating to agricultural and funerary
practices within, beneath and between the cairns as well as evidence of ritual
practices through the cup and ring marked stone.

Source: Historic England

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