Ancient Monuments

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Cairnfield and ring cairn on Rabbit Warren, 650m south east of Park Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Beeley, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2152 / 53°12'54"N

Longitude: -1.5854 / 1°35'7"W

OS Eastings: 427783.776155

OS Northings: 368763.589789

OS Grid: SK277687

Mapcode National: GBR 57X.G08

Mapcode Global: WHCD8.MG80

Entry Name: Cairnfield and ring cairn on Rabbit Warren, 650m south east of Park Farm

Scheduled Date: 19 March 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016419

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31244

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 cairnfield which includes a ring cairn.
The cairnfield was created as the result of land clearance for agriculture
during the Bronze Age.
The site occupies a well-drained ridge of moorland on the East Moors of
Derbyshire. There are up to 50 cairns of various sizes, the majority ranging
between 2m and 4m metres in diameter, although there are several larger
examples of up to 7.5m in diameter. Many of the cairns are circular,
but others are elongated where they may have been associated with previous
field boundaries. The cairns were constructed from cleared stones gathered
from the surrounding area. Although a few of the cairns show slight
disturbances, the majority are complete examples. Also associated with land
clearance are slight traces of stony lynchets and short lengths of field banks
consisting of stone and turf. These indicate that the area was likely to have
been divided into field plots created by debris thrown against fences or
hedges erected as field boundaries.
Close to the south eastern end of the cairnfield stands a ring cairn of
approximately 11.5m external diameter. It is constructed as a circular bank of
stones and turf with an internal diameter of 7m. It now stands up to 0.3m
high. On the eastern side of the ring cairn is a fallen stone which would have
stood about 0.4m-0.5m high. Although the structure is interpreted as a ring
cairn, the fallen standing stone indicates that, alternatively, it may have
once been an embanked stone circle, similar to another example on the same
moorland to the south east. The monument is likely to be from the Early Bronze
Age and may date to the earlier phases of settlement on these moorlands.

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.

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.
Ring cairns are prehistoric ritual monuments comprising a circular bank of
stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The
bank may be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with
small upright or recumbent boulders. They are found mainly in upland areas of
England and often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples. They
are chiefly dated to the Early and Middle Bronze Age. The exact nature of the
ritual 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.
The cairnfield and ring cairn on Rabbit Warren survive well. The importance of
the monument is enhanced as agricultural clearance measures survive together
with an associated and contemporary ritual structure. Further information on
their date, formation and inter-relationships will be preserved.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 116
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 116-7

Source: Historic England

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