Ancient Monuments

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Field system and stone circle on Rabbit Warren, 1150m south east of Park Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Beeley, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2122 / 53°12'43"N

Longitude: -1.5811 / 1°34'52"W

OS Eastings: 428070.837478

OS Northings: 368427.153458

OS Grid: SK280684

Mapcode National: GBR 57X.P2F

Mapcode Global: WHCD8.PJ9B

Entry Name: Field system and stone circle on Rabbit Warren, 1150m south east of Park Farm

Scheduled Date: 19 March 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016417

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31242

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Beeley

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Beeley St Anne

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes a prehistoric field system with associated cairnfield,
an adjacent small stone circle, and the possible site of a building. The field
system includes clearance cairns and linear field banks which identify
rectangular cultivation plots. Together, the component features form a well-
preserved example of a Bronze Age settlement complex.
The site occupies a well-drained area of moorland, overlooking an escarpment
on the East Moors of Derbyshire. There are approximately 46 to 50 cairns of
various sizes, the majority ranging between 2m and 5m in diameter. The cairns,
both circular and ovoid in shape, were constructed from cleared stones
gathered from the surrounding area. Some of the cairns show slight
disturbances although most are complete examples. Also associated with land
clearance are several linear embankments of stone and turf defining small
rectangular field plots. These were constructed from the periodic clearance
of the field plots where stone debris was thrown against fences or hedges
erected as field boundaries. At the eastern end of the field system is a
small rectangualar enclosure, adjacent to which is the possible site of a
circular building. Together, the clearance cairns and linear field banks
demonstrate that this area of the moorland was intensively farmed in
prehistoric times.
At the northern edge of the field system stands a small stone circle,
comprising a ring of upright boulders set into the inner edge of a low rubble
embankment about 15m wide. Within the circle is the remains of a central
kerbed burial cairn with another superimposed on the north eastern section of
the embankment. The circle measures approximately 12m in diameter with between
11 and 15 stones remaining, although the arrangement indicates that there may
have originally been up to 20 stones. The standing stones range between 0.45m
and 1.15m in height. The circle is typical of earlier Bronze Age ceremonial
monuments in the Peak District, although it is likely that the cairns were
later additions. Contained within the area of protection, and passing through
the field system, are braids of a hollow way, now used as a walkers' track,
together with a modern farm track.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 3 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The East Moors in Derbyshire includes all the gritstone moors east of the
River Derwent. It covers an area of 105 sq km, of which around 63% is open
moorland and 37% is enclosed. As a result of recent and on-going
archaeological survey, the East Moors area is becoming one of the best
recorded upland areas in England. On the enclosed land the archaeological
remains are fragmentary, but survive sufficiently well to show that early
human activity extended beyond the confines of the open moors.
On the open moors there is significant and well-articulated evidence over
extensive areas for human exploitation of the gritstone uplands from the
Neolithic to the post-medieval periods. Bronze Age activity accounts for the
most intensive use of the moorlands. Evidence for it includes some of the
largest and best preserved field systems and cairnfields in northern England
as well settlement sites, numerous burial monuments, stone circles and other
ceremonial remains which, together, provide a detailed insight into life in
the Bronze Age. Also of importance is the well preserved and often visible
relationship between the remains of earlier and later periods since this
provides an insight into successive changes in land use through time.
A large number of the prehistoric sites on the moors, because of their rarity
in a national context, excellent state of preservation and inter-connections,
will be identified as nationally important.

The monument comprises several important components associated with
prehistoric settlement and agriculture.
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 land surface to improve its use for agriculture
and on occasions their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots.
Occasionally some of the cairns were used for funerary purposes, although
without excavation it is difficult to determine which cairns contain burials.
Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period (from c.3400 BC),
although the majority date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). Cairnfields can
also retain information concerning the development of land use and
agricultural practices as well as the diversity of beliefs and social
organisation during the prehistoric period.
Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the
end of the 5th century AD. Fields can be square, rectangular, long and narrow,
triangular or polygonal in shape. The field boundaries can take various forms
(including drystone walls or reaves, orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pot
alignments, ditches, fences and lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous
courses. The development of field systems is seen as a response to the
competition for land which began in the later prehistoric period. The majority
are thought to have been used mainly for crop production, although rotation
may have been practiced in a mixed farming economy. Field systems represent a
coherent economic unit often utilized for long periods of time and can thus
provide important information about developements in agricultural practices in
a particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and
environmental change over several centuries.
Small stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles
of upright or recumbent stones. The circle may be surrounded by earthwork
features such as enclosing banks or ditches. Burial cairns may also be found
close to or within the circle. Where excavated they have been found to date
from the Late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000 BC). We do not
fully understand the uses for which these monuments were originally
constructed but it is clear that they had considerable ritual importance for
the societies that used them. In many instances, excavation has indicated
that they provided a focus for burials and the rituals that accompanied the
interment of the dead. Some circles appear to have had a calendrical
function, helping to mark the passage of time and seasons; others may have
provided some form of tribal gathering point for a specific social group. Of
the 250 or so stone circles identified in England, over 100 are examples of
small stone circles. As a rare monument type, which provides an important
insight into prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are
considered worthy of preservation.
The stone circle on Rabbit Warren survives well despite the loss of some
stones. The evidence for Bronze Age settlement and agriculture are also well-
preserved and further significant information will be preserved.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 119-121
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 120-121
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990)
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986)
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986)

Source: Historic England

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