Ancient Monuments

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Cairnfield at Codhill Slack, 670m north east of Percy Cross, including a ring cairn, round barrow and standing stone

A Scheduled Monument in Guisborough, Redcar and Cleveland

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Latitude: 54.5029 / 54°30'10"N

Longitude: -1.0577 / 1°3'27"W

OS Eastings: 461119.61479

OS Northings: 512358.264779

OS Grid: NZ611123

Mapcode National: GBR PJ1C.TM

Mapcode Global: WHF8L.Q2JV

Entry Name: Cairnfield at Codhill Slack, 670m north east of Percy Cross, including a ring cairn, round barrow and standing stone

Scheduled Date: 26 July 1976

Last Amended: 2 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016575

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32022

County: Redcar and Cleveland

Civil Parish: Guisborough

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Guisborough St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes a cairnfield, a ring cairn, a round barrow and a
standing stone situated on a south west facing slope above Codhill Slack.
The cairnfield consists of up to 70 prominent and well defined cairns
distributed largely across two terraces orientated north west to south east
along the hillslope. A few cairns are situated on a third lower terrace where
there are also stretches of tumbled walling visible. Further occasional traces
of walling are interspersed among the cairns and at the northern limit of the
cairnfield. Most of the cairns are sub-circular mounds constructed from small
and medium sized stones, although there are one or two which are more
elongated in shape. Some are built around large erratic boulders. They vary in
size from 3m to 6m in diameter and stand between 0.3m to 0.7m high. The
majority are field clearance cairns which are the result of clearing the
ground to improve it for agriculture. The stretches of walling are up to 22m
long and survive as banks of stone and earth which are 0.7m-2m wide and up to
0.4m high. These are interpreted as part of the field system indicated by the
clearance cairns. Some of the larger cairns, however, were burial mounds.
At the southern end of the cairnfield and situated on the second terrace is a
ring cairn. This has a penannular stone ring bank up to 12m in diameter and
1.7 to 1.9m wide, with a break in the south east side. The bank is constructed
of medium and large stones and stands up to 0.5m high. It encloses a central
area 7.5m in diameter, in the centre of which stands a small cairn 4m in
diameter and up to 0.4m high. The ring cairn was partly excavated in 1967 and
deposits of charcoal and burnt earth were exposed in the central area, which
is interpreted as a cremation site.
The standing stone is situated on the edge of the upper terrace above the ring
cairn, towards the southern end of the cairnfield. It measures 0.6m by 0.3m in
section and stands up to 0.8m high. It is incorporated into the western edge
of a cairn.
The round barrow is situated at the north west of the cairnfield on the lowest
terrace. It has an earthen mound 6m in diameter which stands up to 0.3m high.
It was originally surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide which has become filled
in over the years and is no longer visible as an earthwork. In the centre
there is a hollow caused by partial excavations in the past.
The monument lies in an area rich in prehistoric monuments, including round
barrows, field systems and further cairnfields.

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

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.

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of
stones surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the
inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small uprights or laid
boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of England and are
interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The
exact nature of the rituals 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 the burial
rituals. Ring cairns occasionally lie within round barrow cemeteries and in
northern England they are often associated with cairnfields.
Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often
acted as a focus for burials in later periods. In northern England they are
sometimes found as components of cairnfields. Often occupying prominent
locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their
considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide
important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation
amongst early prehistoric communities.
Standing stones are prehistoric ritual or ceremonial monuments with dates
ranging from the Late Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age for the few
excavated examples. They comprise single or paired upright orthostatic slabs,
ranging from under 1m to over 6m high where still erect. They are often
conspicuously sited and close to other contemporary monument classes. They can
be accompanied by various features: many occur in or on the edges of round
barrows and, where excavated, associated sub-surface features have included
stone cists, stone settings, and various pits and hollows filled in with earth
containing human bone, cremations, charcoal, flints and pottery. Similar
deposits have been found in excavated sockets for standing stones, which range
considerably in depth. Standing stones may have functioned as markers for
routeways, territories, graves or meeting points, but their accompanying
features show that they also had a ritual function and that they form one of
several ritual monument classes of their period which often contain deposits
of cremation and domestic debris as an integral part. No national survey of
standing stones has been undertaken, and estimates range from 50 to 250 extant
examples, widely distributed throughout England but with concentrations in
Cornwall, the North York Moors, Cumbria, Derbyshire and the Cotswolds.
Standing stones are important as nationally rare monuments, with a high
longevity and demonstrating the diversity of ritual practices in the Late
Neolithic and Bronze Age.
The cairnfield at Codhill Slack is in a very good state of preservation.
Significant information about its form and development will survive. Evidence
for the nature of Bronze Age agriculture and earlier land use will be
preserved between and beneath the cairns. The relationships with the ring
cairn, standing stone, round barrow and burial cairns will provide evidence
for the diversity and development of social and ritual practice.
The cairnfield is situated within an area which includes burial monuments and
hut circle settlements as well as other field systems and cairnfields.
Associated groups of monuments such as these offer important scope for the
study of the distribution of prehistoric activity across the landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Pearson, W, 'Moorland Monuments' in Two early Bronze Age sites in Sleddale, , Vol. 101, (1995), 155-170
Spratt, D A , 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology in North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, (1993)
Title: Ordnance Survey 25"
Source Date: 1928

Source: Historic England

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