Ancient Monuments

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Cairnfield 700m north east of Raven Tor

A Scheduled Monument in Beeley, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2027 / 53°12'9"N

Longitude: -1.5704 / 1°34'13"W

OS Eastings: 428793.996482

OS Northings: 367377.135973

OS Grid: SK287673

Mapcode National: GBR 583.CS8

Mapcode Global: WHCD8.VRCM

Entry Name: Cairnfield 700m north east of Raven Tor

Scheduled Date: 9 March 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019481

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31278

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Beeley

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Beeley St Anne

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes a small prehistoric cairnfield comprising at least six

The cairnfield occupies an area of moorland to the east of a west-facing
escarpment at the top of a slight ridge. It comprises a group of dispersed
cairns ranging from between 2m and 2.5m in diameter. At least two of the
cairns appear to be more carefully constructed than the others, one having a
formal kerb, the other a dished interior. The other cairns are well-formed,
standing less than 0.5m above ground, although more of the features will
survive below ground. Most of them appear to be undisturbed. The cairns may be
the result of agricultural clearance from the surrounding area to provide
better farmland. Their relatively uniform size and form indicates that, if
agricultural in origin, they may be the result of a single episode of land
utilisation. The dispersed nature of the cairnfield, however, together with
the careful construction of at least two of the cairns, indicates that it may
be a cairn cemetery.

The cairnfield is indicative of prehistoric settlement dating to the Bronze
Age. Further settlement evidence also survives on the same moorland to the
north west.

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 as 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.

The cairnfield 700m north east of Raven Tor contains complete examples of
small cairns, some of which are complex in construction. As such, they are
important to our understanding of prehistoric agricultural and ceremonial use
of this moorland.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 162

Source: Historic England

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