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Prehistoric enclosure, field system and cairnfield, and medieval and early post-medieval settlements and field systems 600m SSW of Blacklyne House

A Scheduled Monument in Bewcastle, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.1205 / 55°7'13"N

Longitude: -2.7194 / 2°43'9"W

OS Eastings: 354215.069235

OS Northings: 580915.150181

OS Grid: NY542809

Mapcode National: GBR 99G7.17

Mapcode Global: WH7Z1.6K9D

Entry Name: Prehistoric enclosure, field system and cairnfield, and medieval and early post-medieval settlements and field systems 600m SSW of Blacklyne House

Scheduled Date: 23 May 1974

Last Amended: 24 September 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016089

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27783

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 the earthworks and buried remains of a sub-circular
prehistoric stock enclosure, together with an irregular aggregate field system
and an associated cairnfield, a medieval dispersed settlement of two periods
and an associated field system, and an early post-medieval dispersed
settlement and associated field system. It is located on a broad gently
sloping terrace to the east of a low cliff 600m SSW of Blacklyne House.
The prehistoric stock enclosure measures approximately 18m by 17m externally
and has large boulder walls up to 0.3m high. It lies at the north eastern end
of an associated regular aggregate field system which consists of four
stone-walled rectangular fields, each of differing sizes ranging from the
smallest, which measures 23m by 11m, to the largest which measures 45m by 23m.
The eastern boundary of these fields runs parallel to the base of the low
cliff, the cliff itself forms the western boundary. There are entrances in the
eastern boundary wall to three of the four fields. To the east of the
enclosure and field system there is a cairnfield consisting of upwards of ten
cairns measuring between 2.5m to 7m in diameter and up to 0.5m high. These
cairns are interpreted as representing field clearance as part of the
preparation of the land for agriculture.
A short distance to the north east of the prehistoric stock enclosure there is
a medieval dispersed settlement of two periods with an associated field
system. The house belonging to the first period measures 19.5m by 9.75m
externally with walls surviving up to 0.3m high, and has opposed narrow
central entrances in the long sides. The later medieval house was built within
the ruins of the earlier house and measures 14m by 6.7m externally with walls
surviving up to 0.3m high; it also has opposed narrow central entrances in the
long sides. To the south east and north east there is an associated field
system which includes two rectangular fields, two rectangular stock
enclosures, an L-shaped stone wall running across virtually the full width of
the terrace east of the low cliff, and traces of at least three small
outbuildings or folds. At the northern end of the monument there is an early
post-medieval dispersed settlement and associated field system consisting of
an enclosure measuring c.76m by 71m, formed in part by natural features and by
the walls of the earlier medieval field system. In the north west corner of
this enclosure is a smaller irregular enclosure measuring 27m by 17m within
which are the remains of a house measuring c.10m by 6m, situated in the angle
where two hollow ways join. Two sub-rectangular folds at the southern end of
the monument and a circular stone pig trough near the base of the low cliff
are associated with this latter settlement. This post-medieval settlement had
been abandoned by the late 18th century.

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

Within the upland landscape of Cumbria there are many discrete plots of land
enclosed by stone walls or banks of stone and earth, most of which date to the
Bronze Age (c.2000-700BC), though earlier and later examples also exist. They
were constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop growing and were
sometimes sub-divided to accommodate stock and hut circle dwellings for
farmers and herdsmen. The size and form of enclosures therefore may vary
depending upon their particular function. Their variation in form, longevity
and relationship to other monument classes provide important information on
the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric
Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one
another. They often consist largely of clearance cairns, built with stone from
the surrounding landsurface to improve its use for agriculture, and on
occassion their distribution 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 early Bronze Age and continued into the later Bronze Age
(c.2000-700 BC). The considerable longevity and variation in 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
Regular 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 discrete blocks of fields orientated in roughly the
same direction, with the field boundaries set out roughly at right angles to
each other. The fields are bounded by stone or rubble walls or banks, ditches
and fences and the majority are thought to have been used mainly for crop
production. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long
periods of time and can thus provide important information about developments
in agricultural practices in a particular location and broader patterns of
social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries.
Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more. This monument lies in
the Cumbria-Solway sub-Province of the Northern and Western Province, an area
characterised by dispersed hamlets and farmsteads but with some larger
nucleated settlements in well-defined agriculturally favoured areas,
established after the Norman conquest. Traces of seasonal settlements, or
shielings, dominate the high, wet and windy uplands, where surrounding
communities grazed their livestock during the summer months. The Borders local
region comprises the great slope of land between the high Cheviots and the
Solway, where hamlets and scattered farmsteads predominate, and where bastles
and tower houses recall the social conditions of the Anglo-Saxon borders
before the mid-17th century. The eastern part of the region, containing the
wastes of the Bewcastle Fells and Spadeadam, can be seen as a seperate
subdivision; it was occupied by shieling grounds in the Middle Ages and the
Tudor period, and preserves the remains of associated settlement sites and, in
some cases, evidence of associated field systems.
Early post-medieval dispersed settlements are morphologically similar to the
earlier medieval dispersed settlements in this area, and in the absence of
documentary sources precise dating is often difficult. They frequently occupy
the same or an adjacent area to that previously occupied by a medieval
dispersed settlement, and in many cases represent a continuity in use of the
medieval site into the early post-medieval period.
The prehistoric enclosure, field system and cairnfield, and medieval and early
post-medieval settlements and field systems 600m SSW of Blacklyne House
survive well and will retain significant archaeological deposits associated
with prehistoric, medieval and early post-medieval use. The monument
represents evidence of long-term management and exploitation of the landscape
during prehistoric times. Additionally the monument is a good example in the
Border Region of a medieval dispersed settlement and associated field system
which, despite being relocated a short distance to the north, continued in use
into the early post-medieval period. The monument will add greatly to our
understanding of the wider border settlement and economy during the medieval
and early post-medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Ramm, H G , Shielings and Bastles, (1970), 44-50
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, , Monuments Threatened or Destroyed, (1963), 12-13

Source: Historic England

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