Ancient Monuments

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Three prehistoric cairnfields and an associated field system on Corney Fell, 1.2km south east of High Corney

A Scheduled Monument in Waberthwaite, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.3155 / 54°18'55"N

Longitude: -3.3381 / 3°20'17"W

OS Eastings: 313047.678671

OS Northings: 491926.393257

OS Grid: SD130919

Mapcode National: GBR 5L4J.3S

Mapcode Global: WH71G.PSMJ

Entry Name: Three prehistoric cairnfields and an associated field system on Corney Fell, 1.2km south east of High Corney

Scheduled Date: 14 December 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019140

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32839

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Waberthwaite

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Corney St John the Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes three prehistoric cairnfields and an associated field
system located on the west facing slopes of Corney Fell, 1.2km south east of
High Corney. It represents evidence for the prehistoric exploitation of
this landscape and includes one relatively large cairnfield within which there
is a prehistoric field system, together with two smaller cairnfields lying a
short distance to the south.
The northern and largest cairnfield is centred at approximately SD13109208 and
includes over 80 clearance cairns and a small number of short lengths of stone
bank. Within this cairnfield are three distinct groups of cairns;
group A consists of 50 large, prominent and well defined oval shaped
cairns measuring between 2.9m to 10.1m long by 1.7m to 8.7m wide and up to
0.8m high, some of which have been altered and expanded at a later date. A
number of cairns in this group have also been merged by additional stone
and as a result have an irregular shape. Some of these cairns also form
alignments which are interpreted as forming the line of old field boundaries
which appear to define the edges of the cairnfield. Immediately south of this
group lies a small field system comprising two roughly parallel alignments of
cairns and stone banks which functioned as field boundaries and which run
downslope approximately 20m apart. A lynchet defines the upper edge of this
field and the concentration of clearance stone into prominent, parallel banks
indicates that the field would have been utilised as a small cultivation plot.
Group B lies to the south east of the field system and consists of over 20
smaller clearance cairns and a short length of stone bank, while group C lies
to the east of the field system and consists of 10 smaller clearance cairns
and a short length of stone bank. The scale of stone clearance in this
cairnfield, particularly within the cairns of group A, suggests that the
cairnfield was a product of an extended episode of prehistoric agricultural
exploitation. In addition three of the larger cairns have semi-circular bields
or shelters built into them and this disturbance is interpreted as being of
post-medieval date. The central cairnfield is centred on sloping ground at
approximately SD13059180 and includes 18 oval shaped clearance cairns and a
small number of stone banks. The cairns measure between 2.2m to 8.7m long by
1.4m to 5.6m wide and up to 0.6m high. The steep nature of the hillslope upon
which this cairnfield lies suggests that it had a pastoral rather than an
agricultural function.
The southern cairnfield is centred at approximately SD12889165 and includes 11
oval shaped clearance cairns measuring between 2m to 5m in length by 1.8m to
3.5m in width and up to 0.65m high. This cairnfield is interpreted as being
the product of a single stone clearance episode.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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.

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 landsurface to improve its use for agriculture,
and on occasion their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots.
They were constructed from the Neolithic period (from about 3400 BC) although
the majority of examples appear to be the result of field clearance which
began during the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). Their considerable longevity and
variation in the size, content and associations of cairnfields provide
important information on the development of land use and agricultural
practices. Cairnfields also contain information on the diversity of beliefs
and social organisation during the prehistroic period.
The three prehistoric cairnfields and an associated field system on Corney
Fell, 1.2km south east of High Corney survive well and form part of a
well preserved prehistoric landscape extending along the fellsides of south
west Cumbria. In conjunction with a wide range of other prehistoric remains in
the vicinity the monument represents evidence of long term management and
exploitation of this area in prehistoric times.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Quartermaine, J, Charlesground Gill Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Charlesground Gill Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Charlesground Gill Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 20-6
Quartermaine, J, Charlesground Gill Survey Catalogue, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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