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Prehistoric cairnfield, associated field system and a funerary cairn 520m south of Barnscar settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Waberthwaite, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.3467 / 54°20'48"N

Longitude: -3.3356 / 3°20'8"W

OS Eastings: 313275.547984

OS Northings: 495392.242205

OS Grid: SD132953

Mapcode National: GBR 5L45.ML

Mapcode Global: WH71G.Q0SL

Entry Name: Prehistoric cairnfield, associated field system and a funerary cairn 520m south of Barnscar settlement

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019426

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32860

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Waberthwaite

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Muncaster St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a prehistoric cairnfield, an associated field system and
a funerary cairn located on partly-enclosed gently-sloping land 520m south of
Barnscar settlement. It represents Bronze Age exploitation of this landscape
and includes a number of short lengths of stone bank and over 60 oval-shaped
clearance cairns measuring between 2m to 7m long by 1.1m to 5.2m wide and up
to 0.6m high. The cairns are divided into two groups separated by a 35m gap
and are distinct in cairn size and concentration suggesting that they may be a
product of different episodes of stone clearance. One group is located in the
enclosed fields on the cairnfield's western side, the other group is located
on the open fell on the cairnfield's eastern side. The associated prehistoric
field system consists of two fields or plots, one being located in each of the
two groups of clearance cairns. The fields are bounded by stone banks or cairn
alignments which are interpreted as representing the line of old field
boundaries in which sporadic patches of stone clearance were piled against a
fence or hedge. Both fields are relatively stone-free, flat and well-drained,
and are interpreted as prehistoric fields which were deliberately cleared of
stone in order to render the ground usable for agricultural cultivation. The
prehistoric funerary cairn is located at SD13349549 and consists of a
turf-covered oval-shaped mound of stones measuring 11.1m long by 10.7m wide
and up to 0.4m high.
Pollen cores taken from the sediments of nearby Devoke Water have revealed the
changing vegetational history of this area over the last 5000 years and show
episodes of forest clearance and a development of grassland during the
prehistoric period. During one of these episodes most trees were cut down and
were soon replaced by extensive grassland. This clearance is associated with
the Bronze Age on the basis of its similarity to a clearance episode from
Seathwaite Tarn 9km to the east, which has been scientifically dated to around
1000 BC.
All modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath them is included.

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.

The prehistoric cairnfield, associated field system and funerary cairn 520m
south of Barnscar settlement survives well and forms 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 remains in
the vicinity it represents evidence of long term management and exploitation
of this area in prehistoric times.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 32-50
Quartermaine, J, Barnscar Survey Catalogue, (1988)
Quartermaine, J, Barnscar Survey Catalogue, (1988)
Quartermaine, J, Barnscar Survey Catalogue, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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