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Stoke Flat West prehistoric field system and stone circle

A Scheduled Monument in Froggatt, Derbyshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.2854 / 53°17'7"N

Longitude: -1.6266 / 1°37'35"W

OS Eastings: 424988.985765

OS Northings: 376555.180588

OS Grid: SK249765

Mapcode National: GBR KZ2F.MZ

Mapcode Global: WHCCV.ZPL6

Entry Name: Stoke Flat West prehistoric field system and stone circle

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017592

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29805

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Froggatt

Built-Up Area: Froggatt

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Curbar All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Derby

Details

The monument includes a series of Bronze Age cairns with associated clearance
banks forming a prehistoric field system. In addition, there is also an
embanked stone circle within the complex. The remains are located in open
moorland to the immediate east of a gritstone scarp known edge known as
Froggatt Edge. The latter overlooks the River Derwent and is less that 1km
east of the village of Froggatt. The remains occupy gently shelving and
relatively well-drained land sloping to the west. A short distance to the east
is another similar prehistoric field system known as Stoke Flat East and there
is another a short distance to the south known as Stoke Flat South, both the
subjects of separate schedulings (SMs 29804 and SM 29806 respectively).
There are about 50 cairns constructed of medium and large stones distributed
throughout the monument. Some appear to have been placed over the large
earthfast boulders. Although several have been disturbed in recent times, many
appear intact. The area has been cleared of stones and, despite heather
growth, the remains are easily traced. The cairns are of varying size, ranging
from 1.5m to 7.4m in diameter. Some are clustered together forming small areas
of cairnfield, others are interspersed amongst field banks. Some of the cairns
are elongated and are thus ovoid in plan, especially where they are associated
with linear clearance. The relationship between some of the cairns and the
banks indicates chronological depth within the complex. It is thought that the
primary function of the cairns was for agricultural clearance but they were
often reused for human burial. At Stoke Flat some of the larger cairns may
have been reused in this way. One particularly large cairn, which is overlain
by a later sheepfold in the middle of the monument, is 13.5m in diameter. It
exhibits disturbance to the centre of the mound probably indicative of
antiquarian attempts to locate a central burial. Additionally a group of 14
small cairns immediately associated with a stone circle may also contain
burials.
The linear clearance banks within the monument survive well, some standing 0.6
to 0.7m high. They are constructed of stone cleared from the adjacent land and
incorporate earthfast boulders in places. They represent the boundaries of
fields which may also have been defined by hedges or fences. These fields were
small and included irreular and sub-rectangular areas. Smaller enclosures are
best interpreted as yards. About eight fields can be identified, arranged
coaxially to form a long north-south strip of fields each oriented with their
main axis running east-west. Additionally two or three small yards can also be
identified.
The field system and cairnfield are restricted to the better drained moor and
indicate extensive prehistoric agriculture in the area. It is likely that some
contemporary settlement also lay on the moor within the area of the field
system and a small isolated arrangement of semi-circular banking close to the
centre of the complex has been interpreted as a hut circle.
Towards the northern end of the monument stands an embanked stone circle with
an internal diameter of 11.5m. It has two diametrically opposed entrances
oriented NNE and SSW. That to the SSW has two large orthostats (upright
boulders) at each side of the entrance, the larger one being 1.1m high. The
NNE entrance, which appears to have been blocked, possibly in prehistoric
times, is also flanked by three orthostats. There are 12 or more large stones
within the earthen embankment of the circle including those around the two
entrances; some stand upright to a height of between 0.35 and 0.55m, others
just break the surface of the embankment. The stone circle may once have had
an arrangement of inner and outer orthostats around the embankment. There are
nine surviving standing stones set into the inner face of the embankment and a
similar number indicate the second outer arrangement, three of which are
recumbent. It has been estimated that there were originally 16 standing stones
in the inner part of the embankment.
The monument is crossed by several hollow ways. These are of uncertain date
but may have been medieval routeways providing access to moorland pasture.
All post-medieval stone walls, wooden fenceposts and wire fencing are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

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

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.

Prehistoric field systems often consist of concentrations of clearance cairns,
sometimes with linear clearance banks. The features were constructed from
stone cleared from the surrounding landscape to improve its use for
agriculture and on occaisons their distribution pattern can be seen to define
field plots. Such field systems were constructed from the Neolithic period
(from c.3400 BC), although the majority of examples 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
the sites provide important information on the development of land use and
agricultural practices.
The stone circle at Stoke Flat West, a monument type which is concentrated in
the western and upland areas of England. This distribution may be more a
reflection of present survival rather than an original pattern. The uses for
which these monuments were constructed is not fully understood, 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 interment of the dead. As a rare
monument type which provides an important insight into prehistroic ritual
activity, all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.
The field system and stone circle of Stoke Flat West together illustrate the
relationship between agricultural, domestic and ritual activity. This is
one of the best preserved of several examples of field systems on the East
Moors of Derbyshire. The importance of the monument is enhanced by its
association with other areas of prehistoric activity on the same stretch of
moorland, forming an area of outstanding importance to our understanding of
Bronze Age society.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Burl, A, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1976)
RCHME, , Stoke Flat Field System, (1987)
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 50
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, , Vol. 106, (1986), 33-6
Beswick, P, Merrills, D, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Soc.' in L H Butcher's Survey of Early Settlement ..., , Vol. 12, (1983), 16-50

Source: Historic England

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