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Great Grassoms prehistoric cairnfield, four funerary cairns, two medieval dispersed settlements and associated field systems on Bootle Fell

A Scheduled Monument in Bootle, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.2838 / 54°17'1"N

Longitude: -3.3327 / 3°19'57"W

OS Eastings: 313333.608094

OS Northings: 488397.57192

OS Grid: SD133883

Mapcode National: GBR 5L5X.84

Mapcode Global: WH71N.SL59

Entry Name: Great Grassoms prehistoric cairnfield, four funerary cairns, two medieval dispersed settlements and associated field systems on Bootle Fell

Scheduled Date: 29 October 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017065

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32832

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Bootle

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Bootle St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of Great Grassoms
prehistoric field system, four funerary cairns, two medieval dispersed
settlements and associated enclosed field systems. It is located on a
moderately graded spur of moorland on the slopes of Bootle Fell, bordered by
Cockley Beck to the north and Grassoms Beck to the east, and represents
evidence for the prehistoric and medieval exploitation of this landscape.
The prehistoric cairnfield is centred at approximately SD13168830 and includes
16 clearance cairns measuring between 2.4m-8.7m long by 1.9m-7.6m wide and up
to 0.4m high, together with a short length of stone banking. Within this
cairnfield are four oval shaped funerary cairns measuring between 7.5m-10.6m
long by 6.5m-8m wide and up to 0.45m high; the westernmost of these funerary
cairns has traces of a stone kerb around its perimeter.
At SD13408846, approximately 130m south west of the confluence of Crookley
Back and Grassoms Beck, there are the lower courses of a three roomed
stone built or stone and timber built farmhouse which formed part of one of
the two medieval dispersed settlements at Great Grassoms. The building
measures 18m by 7m and has two entrances leading into its northern room. To
the north west of the farmhouse there is a rectilinear enclosure measuring 26m
by 13m which is bordered by well defined stone banks. Access to the enclosure
is by an entrance at its south west corner. The downslope bank of the
enclosure has a lynchet-like profile resulting from soil slippage and this is
interpreted as indicating that ploughing has taken place and that the
enclosure was used for cultivation. A field system associated with this
settlement consists of two fields: an irregularly shaped field to the east and
a larger sub-rectangular field to the west. The eastern field is bordered by
regular, prominent stone banks with a gap or entrance at the northern end. The
land within is undulating, poorly drained and contains occasional surface
stone, and the field is considered to have served a pastoral rather than an
arable function and was probably used to contain stock. The larger western
field is bordered by a large bank and ditch which converges with the stone
bank of the eastern field south of the farmhouse, while Crookley Beck forms
the field's boundary on the northern side. The ditch is on the outside of the
bank and together they present a greater obstacle to animals outside the field
than those within it; thus the boundary would appear to have been designed to
repel rather than contain animals. Internally the land has a uniform gradient,
is well drained, and is more conducive to cultivation than the eastern field.
A short distance higher up the hillside, at SD13568837, lies the second of the
two medieval dispersed settlements. It is similar in layout to the other
settlement although its house and fields are larger. This settlement consists
of the lower courses of a two roomed stone built or stone and timber built
farmhouse measuring 24m by 9m with a single entrance leading into the western
room. To the north west of the farmhouse there is a rectangular enclosure
similar to that adjacent to the other farmhouse. Although the downslope bank
of this enclosure does not have a lynchet-like profile suggesting cultivation,
it is more likely to have served an arable rather than a pastoral function
because it is defined by a bank with an external ditch, which presents a
greater obstacle to stock from outside and thus implies an intention to
exclude stock. Two large banks and ditches extend north and south west from
the farmhouse and form the outer boundaries of two large fields separated by a
low stone wall which together comprise the field system associated with this
settlement. The eastern field has a large gap in its boundary at the northern
end close to Grassoms Beck and as such a gap is inappropriate for the
containment of stock, the field may have been used for arable cultivation. It
contains well drained land with a uniform low to moderate slope which is in
contrast to the western field where the slope is markedly steeper.
These two medieval dispersed settlements are located on exposed, relatively
high land and such terrain is traditionally associated with pastoralism. There
is evidence, however, that some of the fields or small enclosures were used
for cultivation, thus indicating that a mixed economy was undertaken here. The
settlements are similar in type and are considered to be approximately
contemporary. Although they were probably not built at exactly the same time
it is not immediately obvious which is the earlier. There is a possibility
that despite their different forms they were part of an integral, broadly
contemporary field system.
There are two medieval documentary sources which refer to Grassoms. The
earliest comes from the register of the Priory of St Bees dated 1252 and
suggests that the land of `Gresholmes' was of some value and was therefore
probably in agricultural use at that time. The second reference comes from the
Millom Courtbook within which are details of a rental of 1510. This rental
notes a tenement called `Gresholmys' which was owned by the lords of Millom
who `shepherd remains on that place and guards the sheep.'

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Cumbrian uplands comprise large areas of remote mountainous terrain, much
of which is largely open fellside. As a result of archaeological surveys
between 1980 and 1990 within the Lake District National Park, these fells have
become one of the best recorded upland areas in England. On the open fells
there is sufficient well preserved and understood evidence over extensive
areas for human exploitation of these uplands from the Neolithic to the post-
medieval period. On the enclosed land and within forestry the archaeological
remains are fragmentary, but they survive sufficiently well to show that human
activity extended beyond the confines of the open fells. Bronze Age activity
accounts for the most extensive use of the area, and evidence for it includes
some of the largest and best preserved field systems and cairn fields in
England, as well as settlement sites, numerous burial monuments, stone circles
and other ceremonial remains. Taken together, their remains can provide a
detailed insight into life in the later prehistoric period. Of additional
importance is the well-preserved and often visible relationship between the
remains of earlier and later periods, since this provides an understanding of
changes in land use through time. Because of their rarity in a national
context, excellent state of preservation and inter-connections, most
prehistoric monuments on the Lake District fells will be identified as
nationally important.

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 Lake District local region is characterised by a series of mountain blocks
separated by deep valleys, providing great variation in local terrain.
Settlement is sparse, but villages and hamlets occasionally appear in the
valleys. Higher up, beyond the head-dyke, are traces of medieval and earlier
settlements in farmlands since abandoned.
In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the
landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed settlement in an
area, usually a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single (or
principal) nucleated settlement focus such as a village and the presence
instead of small settlement units (small hamlets or farmsteads) spread across
the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection
with their close neighbours, for example, in relation to shared common land or
road systems. Dispersed settlements varied enormously from region to region,
but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include
roads and other minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other
buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In areas
where stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations may
still be clearly visible. Communal areas of the settlement frequently include
features such as bakehouses, pinfolds and ponds. Areas of dispersed medieval
settlement are found in both the South Eastern Province and Northern and
Western Province of England. They are found in upland and also in some lowland
areas. Where found their archaeological remains are one of the most important
sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries
following the Norman Conquest.
Medieval enclosed field systems comprise fields defined and enclosed by a
physical boundary. These boundaries can take various forms including walls,
hedges, earth and stone banks and ditches. Component features common to most
enclosed field systems include ridge and furrow and lynchets. The development
of enclosed field systems during the medieval period was a response to
population pressure and expansion onto marginal land, and the extent and
morphology of these field systems resulted from the nature of the topography
and social and economic constraints such as the size of the population they
were intended to support. The majority of enclosed field systems are thought
to have been used for pasture but others contained cultivated ground. Some
continued in use throughout the post-medieval period and are a major feature
of the modern landscape. They occur widely throughout England with a tendancy
towards upland areas associated with largely dispersed settlement patterns.
Medieval enclosed field systems offer good opportunities for understanding
medieval rural economy and provide valuable evidence regarding the morphology
of field systems, their extent and distribution.
Great Grassoms prehistoric cairnfield and four funerary cairns on Bootle Fell
survive well and form part of a large area of well-preserved prehistoric
landscape extending along the fellsides of south west Cumbria. In conjunction
with a wide range of other prehistoric monuments in the vicinity it represents
evidence of long term management and exploitation of this area in prehistoric
times. Additionally the two medieval dispersed settlements and associated
enclosed field systems also survive well and will add greatly to our knowledge
and understanding of settlement and economy during the medieval period.
Overall the monument is a rare example of a landscape within which evidence of
human exploitation is visible through a range of well-preserved monuments
dating to the prehistoric and medieval periods.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Quartermaine, J, Bootle Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 2-15
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 2-15
Quartermaine, J, Bootle Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Bootle Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Bootle Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Bootle Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Bootle Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Bootle Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Bootle Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Bootle Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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