Ancient Monuments

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Prehistoric cultivation terraces immediately south east of Nook

A Scheduled Monument in Bewcastle, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.0945 / 55°5'40"N

Longitude: -2.7513 / 2°45'4"W

OS Eastings: 352152.215663

OS Northings: 578045.929449

OS Grid: NY521780

Mapcode National: GBR 997J.4K

Mapcode Global: WH7Z6.Q62T

Entry Name: Prehistoric cultivation terraces immediately south east of Nook

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 17 April 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015765

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27765

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Bewcastle

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Bewcastle St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a series of three prehistoric cultivation terraces or
lynchets running along the contours of the hillside a short distance south
east of Nook. The lynchets face south west and vary between 3m-8m in width,
0.7m-2.2m in height, and up to a maximum of 120m in length.
All modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Lynchets are a feature of the agricultural landscape caused by ploughing and
are found along the edges of a field or are located along the contours within
the field unit. Field boundaries, such as banks or walls, become enlarged and
overlain by hillwash material loosened by the cultivation process, which
builds up against them under the action of gravity. This accumulation of earth
is known as a positive lynchet. A corresponding erosion from the downslope
side of the boundary forms a negative lynchet. Together the positive and
negative lynchets form a terrace or a series of terraces on a hillside and
thus provide distinctive traces of medieval and earlier agricultural activity.
Prehistoric lynchets are conspicuous in the square field systems, known as
Celtic fields, where they tend to be narrow and follow the contours to form
flights of terraces. They can be dated from the pottery in their boundaries
and their relationship to other prehistoric monuments. The earliest
prehistoric lynchets appear to be of Neolithic origin (3400-2000 BC) and they
were in use throughout the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). Medieval lynchets can be
recognised in the long rectangular fields, the so-called strip lynchets, laid
out on sloping terrain in post-Roman and medieval times. Prehistoric lynchets
can be confused with, if not reused as, the terraces of medieval strip
cultivation on hillslopes. Length tends to differentiate the medieval from the
prehistoric lynchet; the former are longer, often as much as 200m in length,
and rarely less than 70m. Another way of differentiating medieval from earlier
examples is the way they terminate; instead of being squared off, as were many
Roman and earlier examples, they either ran out onto unploughed land or end in
a sharp curved negative lynchet, formed as the plough was pulled round.
Lynchet field systems provide an important insight into prehistoric
cultivation methods. A substantial proportion of surviving examples,
particularly where they are well preserved, are considered to be nationally
The prehistoric lynchets immediately south east of Nook survive reasonably
well and remain unencumbered by modern development. They are a rare survival
of prehistoric cultivation in Cumbria and will contain archaeological evidence
for the types of crops grown and the farming methods practised here. The
monument lies relatively close to other prehistoric monuments around
Bewcastle, thus indicating the importance of this area in prehistoric times
and the diversity of monument classes to be found here.

Source: Historic England


AM7, Charlesworth,D., Lynchets SE of the Nook, (1973)
Cumbria SMR, Lynchets SE of the Nook, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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