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Bronze Age settlement and ceremonial remains on Gibbet Moor, 980m north east of Swiss Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Baslow and Bubnell, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2347 / 53°14'5"N

Longitude: -1.5819 / 1°34'54"W

OS Eastings: 428000.752001

OS Northings: 370936.075444

OS Grid: SK280709

Mapcode National: GBR 57Q.8VF

Mapcode Global: WHCD2.NYWK

Entry Name: Bronze Age settlement and ceremonial remains on Gibbet Moor, 980m north east of Swiss Cottage

Scheduled Date: 11 February 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019000

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31270

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Baslow and Bubnell

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Baslow St Anne

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes an extensive complex of prehistoric settlement and
ceremonial remains in an area of open moorland. Features include cairnfields,
linear clearance banks, single barrows and multiple barrow cemeteries, a stone
circle and a stone setting. Several probable building platforms have also
been identified. This is one of the most extensive Bronze Age settlement
complexes in the Peak District.

The settlement and ceremonial remains occupy open moorland, most of which
slopes gently to the north. To the east, west and south are further
prehistoric features which are thought to be associated with the main area of
settlement but are separated from it by boggy or stony ground. Most of these
are the subject of separate schedulings.

Within the complex are at least 250 cairns. These form several large
cairnfields, but there are also some isolated single cairns and some small
cairn groups. The cairns are of various sizes, typically between 2m and 4m in
diameter, although there are many larger and smaller examples.

Associated with several of the cairnfields are stretches of linear clearance
in some cases forming field enclosures, especially in the northern part of the
complex. Such field banks were created from debris being thrown or placed
alongside hedges or fences and indicate that the area was subject to arable
cultivation. Some cairns are elongated, indicating that they also were
constructed at the side of field boundaries.

Within the cairnfields some of the larger cairns do not appear to be
associated with land clearance but are interpreted as funerary monuments.
These are often found in stony areas and stand on bluffs that overlook the
settlement complex. It is also possible that many of the other cairns contain
human remains because excavation elsewhere has shown that clearance cairns
were sometimes used for funerary purposes.

At the southern end of the complex stands a small embanked stone circle. It
measures approximately 13m by 10m surrounded by an earthen embankment about
1.5m at its highest point. Twelve or more standing stones are now fallen or
leaning with a maximum height of about 0.7m. In the south side of the circle
is a narrow entrance revetted in stone. In the central part of the complex
stands another stone setting of unusual character. It appears to be a
diminutive version of a `four-poster' stone circle with three standing stones,
forming three corners of a square: the fourth is now missing. Each side of the
square is approximately 2m and the setting is oriented NNE-SSW. All of the
standing stones are about 0.65m high.

Within the complex stand several small areas interpreted as the sites of
prehistoric habitations. Most take the form of circular depressions or
platforms, some now defined by arcs of rubble. Excavation elsewhere has shown
that Bronze Age houses were usually timber built and it is likely that
considerable information in the form of constructional post holes and domestic
artefacts lie buried at these locations.

The dispersed nature of house sites indicate that these represent a series of
small family farms distributed across the landscape. There appear to be
several different forms of field layout within the area of protection which
may be chronological indicators or, alternatively, may show different forms of
contemporary land exploitation in response to the topography. At the northern
end, field plots are small and irregular with many clearance cairns, often
placed at field edges or centrally, rather than as a random spread. Further
south there are indications of co-axial field layouts with larger plots. At
the southern end of the complex are more dense concentrations of random cairns
with small cleared areas. These may indicate a relatively short lived
exploitation of the landscape in this area.

Within the complex of prehistoric features are several more recent remains
relating to military training during World War II. These now comprise a series
of hollows, mounds and platforms with one arrangement indicating a military
command post.

The metalled surface of roads, all modern drystone walls, gates and fences are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

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.

Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age
(c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or
multiple burials which were sometimes placed in stone-lined compartments
called cists. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands but their
considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide
important information on the variety of beliefs and social organisation
amongst prehistoric communities.

Linear field systems date from the Bronze Age to the fifth century AD. They
usually comprise a discrete block of fields oriented in roughly the same
direction. Individual fields can be square, rectangular, long and narrow,
triangular or polygonal in shape. The development of field systems is seen as
a response to the competition for land which began during the later
prehistoric period. The majority are thought to have been used mainly for
crop production. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for
long periods of time and can thus provide important information about
developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and broader
patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries.
Small stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles
of upright or recumbent stones, sometimes enclosed by a ditch or embankment.
Stone circles are found throughout England although they are concentrated in
western areas, with particular clusters in upland areas. Where excavated they
are found to date from the Late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age
(c.2400-1000 BC). In many instances excavation has indicated that they
provided a focus for burials and the rituals that accompanied the interment of
the dead. Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function, helping
mark the passage of time and seasons. At other sites, the spacing of
individual circles throughout the landscape has led to the suggestion that
each one provided some form of tribal gathering point for a specific social

A four-poster stone circle is a rectangular or sub-rectangular setting of four
or five standing stones. The corner stones of the rectangle usually lie on
the perimeter of a circle. Of the 250 or so stone circles identified in
England, only 22 are examples of four-posters.

Hut circle settlements were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers, most
dating from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). The round houses often consist of
low walls or banks enclosing a circular floor area; the remains of 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 stones. Frequently traces of their associated field systems may be
found immediately around them. The longevity of use of hut circle settlements
and their association with other monument types provides important information
on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst
prehistoric communities.

The complex of Bronze Age settlement and ceremonial remains on Gibbet Moor,
980m north east of Swiss Cottage is one of the most extensive and well
preserved Bronze Age settlement complexes in the Peak District. It provides an
important insight into Bronze Age settlement, agricultural and ceremonial use
of the Derbyshire East Moors.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 69
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 63-71
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 64-6
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 63-71
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 63-71
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 64-6
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 65-6
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 62-4
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 62-4
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986), 53-5
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986), 53-5
Ainsworth, S., Gibbet Moor Archaeological Survey, 1990, unpublished survey report
Ainsworth, S., Gibbet Moor Archaeological Survey, 1990, unpublished survey report

Source: Historic England

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