Ancient Monuments

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Cairnfield and ring cairn 490m south of Offerton Hall

A Scheduled Monument in Offerton, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.3219 / 53°19'18"N

Longitude: -1.6825 / 1°40'57"W

OS Eastings: 421244.198931

OS Northings: 380595.008597

OS Grid: SK212805

Mapcode National: GBR JZP0.JX

Mapcode Global: WHCCN.4R2R

Entry Name: Cairnfield and ring cairn 490m south of Offerton Hall

Scheduled Date: 10 May 1963

Last Amended: 16 April 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016627

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31249

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Offerton

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Hathersage St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes a cairnfield and large ring cairn standing on a moorland
shelf and is interpreted as the remains of Bronze Age cultivation and
settlement with associated ceremonial remains.
The cairnfield consists of at least 20 cairns of varying sizes, but typically
in the range of 1.5m to 7m in diameter. One of the cairns is especially large,
measuring 18.5m by 17m and is now saucer shaped, having been robbed of some of
its stone. The size and position of the cairn, standing in a prominent
location on a knoll, indicates that it held a funerary function.
Towards the southern end of the cairnfield stands a large ring cairn
consisting of a turf and stone sub-circular bank measuring 23m by 18.5m
internally and 27m by 23m externally. It is thought that the structure may
originally have been a stone circle with its internal standing stones
subsequently removed to build nearby enclosure walls. There is an entrance on
its south east side but this may not be original.
The cairnfield is interpreted as evidence for the systematic clearance of the
moorland for cultivation during the Bronze Age. It was originally part of a
more extensive area of cultivation, separated from areas to the west by
uncleared boulder strewn ground. As in several examples in the region, the
cairnfield also incorporates at least one funerary cairn, while the associated
ring cairn provides evidence for contemporary ceremonial activity.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 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.3,400 BC)
although the majority date from the Bronze Age (2,000-700 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 importance of the cairnfield 490m south of Offerton Hall is enhanced by
the inclusion of well preserved agricultural clearance evidence together with
associated and contemporary ritual structures.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 69-70
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 69-70
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986), 66-68
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986), 66-68

Source: Historic England

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