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Swindale Beck prehistoric stone hut circle settlement, associated field system, four ring cairns, a round cairn and three hut platforms

A Scheduled Monument in Murton, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.5802 / 54°34'48"N

Longitude: -2.3609 / 2°21'39"W

OS Eastings: 376767.300014

OS Northings: 520610.261237

OS Grid: NY767206

Mapcode National: GBR CHYG.NX

Mapcode Global: WH931.P4YM

Entry Name: Swindale Beck prehistoric stone hut circle settlement, associated field system, four ring cairns, a round cairn and three hut platforms

Scheduled Date: 29 October 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018829

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27839

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Murton

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Appleby St Lawrence

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes Swindale Beck prehistoric stone hut circle settlement,
an associated field system, four ring cairns, a round cairn and three hut
platforms. It is located on sloping ground on the valley side north of
Swindale Beck between Marn Gill to the west and Siss Gill to the east. The
prehistoric stone hut circle settlement includes a sub-rectangular stone
walled enclosure measuring approximately 55m by 50m which used Marn Gill as
its western boundary. Within the enclosure, and built against its wall close
to the north east corner, are the remains of a stone hut circle 5m in diameter
with walls up 0.5m high. A substantial wall constructed of large boulders runs
from the northern side of the settlement enclosure to the edge of a long
narrow area of shake holes. This wall then follows the southern edge of the
shake holes in a south easterly direction and becomes intermittent and partly
covered by boggy ground before terminating at the edge of a rocky gorge above
Suss Gill. This wall, together with the settlement enclosure, Suss Gill to the
east and Swindale Beck to the south, defines an area considered to be a large
prehistoric field associated with the settlement. Within this field, and close
to the south east corner of the settlement enclosure, are a group of funerary
monuments and hut platforms. The funerary monuments include four ring cairns,
the largest of which measures 6m by 4m, and a small round cairn. Close by are
two small circular terraces about 5m in diameter which have been dug into the
hillslope and are considered to be hut platforms. A third hut platform lies
adjacent to the east side of the enclosure wall and consists of a circular
terrace 7.5m in diameter dug into the hillslope; the wall of a hut circle
survives up to 0.2m high on the northern side of the terrace.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Stone hut circles and hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of
prehistoric farmers. Most date from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). The stone-
based round-houses consist of low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor
area; the remains of the turf, thatch or heather roofs are not preserved. The
huts may occur singly or in small or large groups and may lie in the open or
be enclosed by a bank of earth or stone. Frequently traces of their associated
field systems may be found immediately around them. These may be indicated by
areas of clearance cairns and/or the remains of field walls and other
enclosures. The longevity of use of hut circle settlements and their
relationship with other monument types provides important information on the
diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric
communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a
substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of
protection.

Irregular aggregate field systems are one of several methods of field layout
known to have been employed from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c.2000
BC-AD 400). They comprise a collection of field plots generally lacking
conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields with sinuous
outlines and varying shapes and sizes, bounded by stone or rubble walls or
banks, ditches or fences. The settlements or farmsteads from which people
utilised the fields are usually situated close to or within the field system.
The majority of these field systems are thought to have been mainly for crop
production although rotation may also have been practiced in a mixed farming
economy. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long
periods and can thus provide important information about developments in
agricultural practices and broader patterns of social, cultural and
environmental change over several centuries.
A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument 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 laid boulders. They are mainly found in upland areas of England and
often occur in pairs or small groups. Ring cairns 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 pottery, taken to indicate feasting
activities associated with the burial rituals. As a relatively rare class of
monument exhibiting considerable variation in form, all positively identified
examples retaining significant archaeological deposits are considered worthy
of protection.
Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age. They
were constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials. These
burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined compartments called
cists. In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch. Their considerable
variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early
prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of
protection.
Swindale Beck prehistoric stone hut circle settlement, its associated field
system, ring cairns and round cairn, survive well and represent a complex and
diverse group of prehistoric monument classes. Together these represent long
term management and exploitation of the landscape and indicate the importance
of this area in prehistoric times and the diversity of monument classes to be
found here.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
AP No. CCC 2800,21, Cumbria County Council, Warcop, Swindale Crag,
SMR no. 6582, Cumbria County Council, Warcop, Swindale Beck, (1989)
SMR no. 6582, Cumbria County Council, Warcop, Swindale Beck, (1989)
SMR no. 6582, Cumbria County Council, Warcop, Swindale Beck, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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