Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cairnfield on Beeley Moor, east of Hell Bank Plantation

A Scheduled Monument in Ashover, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2088 / 53°12'31"N

Longitude: -1.565 / 1°33'53"W

OS Eastings: 429150.939242

OS Northings: 368060.463832

OS Grid: SK291680

Mapcode National: GBR 57Y.TBN

Mapcode Global: WHCD8.XLYX

Entry Name: Cairnfield on Beeley Moor, east of Hell Bank Plantation

Scheduled Date: 9 March 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019483

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31280

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Ashover

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 on a ridge beneath a west-facing
escarpment. It comprises a compact group of cairns ranging from between
approximately 1.5m to 2.5m in diameter. They are arranged as two clusters of
at least three cairns each amid stone-cleared ground. The cairns are complete
examples and more features will survive below ground under an accumulation of
peat and turf. 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 cairnfield may, however, be funerary
in function forming a discrete cairn cemetery.

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

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 on Beeley Moor, east of Hell Bank Plantation, contains complete
examples of small cairns. 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), 135
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 135

Source: Historic England

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