Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Stone circle and cairnfield on Harland Moor, 375m south west of Park Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Farndale West, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.3243 / 54°19'27"N

Longitude: -0.9632 / 0°57'47"W

OS Eastings: 467527.55184

OS Northings: 492571.81285

OS Grid: SE675925

Mapcode National: GBR PLQF.8M

Mapcode Global: WHF9F.5KKT

Entry Name: Stone circle and cairnfield on Harland Moor, 375m south west of Park Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019599

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32712

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Farndale West

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Kirkbymoorside All Saints

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes buried and earthwork remains of a prehistoric stone
circle, marked as a cairn on the 1:10,000 map, and an adjacent area of
prehistoric clearance cairns. It forms one of two core areas of extensive
prehistoric remains which extend across Harland Moor. A second, larger core
area, which forms a separate monument, lies centred 700m to the south.
The stone circle is formed by a low stoney bank up to 3m-4m wide and around
0.5m high, topped by at least 11 large, typically edge set boulders. The
circle, approximately 18m in diameter, is in fact slightly `D'-shaped with a
flattened north east side. This straight side might be the result of later
disturbance as the area is cut through north west to south east by a number of
hollowed track ways, one of which passes through the circle. The stones are
all over 0.5m across, and are irregular in both shape and spacing. In general
the larger stones are sited on the southern side, with the largest of all
measuring 2m by 0.8m by 0.7m high. In the south eastern part of the circle
there is a 3m diameter, 1m deep hollow which is considered to be a medieval
iron ore pit. Several further such pits lie beyond the monument to both the
east and west. An area 10m wide beyond the edge of the stone circle is also
included in the monument. This is designed to include any outlying prehistoric
pits and ditches surviving as infilled features which excavation elsewhere has
shown to frequently survive. The stone circle is sited on fairly level ground
on top of a north west to south east ridge which drops away very gently to the
south but more steeply to the north east. The monument also includes a
cairnfield represented by a scatter of at least ten clearance cairns which
mainly extend to the south, down slope from the stone circle, with one lying
15m to the west. These are typically around 3m-4m in diameter and up to 0.5m
high. Most are fairly irregular, but one or two of the larger cairns appear to
be more carefully constructed. Similar examples elsewhere have been excavated
and have been shown to contain human cremation burials. There does not appear
to be any obvious patterning in the distribution of the cairns.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of
upright or recumbent stones. The circle of stones may be surrounded by
earthwork features such as enclosing banks and ditches. Single upright stones
may be found within the circle or outside it and avenues of stones radiating
out from the circle occur at some sites. Burial cairns may also be found close
to and on occasion within the circle. Stone circles are found throughout
England although they are concentrated in western areas, with particular
clusters in upland areas such as Bodmin and Dartmoor in the south-west and the
Lake District and the rest of Cumbria in the north-west. This distribution may
be more a reflection of present survival rather than an original pattern.
Where excavated they have been found to date from the Late Neolithic to the
Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000 BC). It is clear that they were carefully
designed and laid out, frequently exhibiting very regularly spaced stones, the
heights of which also appear to have been of some importance. We do not fully
understand the uses for which these monuments were originally constructed but
it is clear that they had considerable ritual importance for the societies
that used them. In many instances excavation has indicated that they provided
a focus for burials and the rituals that accompanied interment of the dead.
Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function, helping mark the
passage of time and seasons, this being indicated by the careful alignment of
stones to mark important solar or lunar events such as sunrise or sunset at
midsummer or midwinter. At other sites the spacing of individual circles
throughout the landscape has led to a suggestion that each one provided some
form of tribal gathering point for a specific social group. A small stone
circle comprises a regular or irregular ring of between 7 and 16 stones with a
diameter of between 4 and 20 metres. They are widespread throughout England
although clusters are found on Dartmoor, the North Yorkshire Moors, in the
Peak District and in the uplands of Cumbria and Northumberland. Of the 250 or
so stone circles identified in England, over 100 are examples of small stone
circles. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into
prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are worthy of

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 occasion their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots.
However, funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without
excavation it may be impossible to determine which cairns contain burials.
Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period (from c.3400 BC),
although the majority of examples appear to be the result of field clearance
which began during the earlier Bronze Age and continued into the later Bronze
Age (2000-700 BC). The 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 retain
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the
prehistoric period.
Stone circles are particularly rare on the North York Moors. The example on
Harland Moor is well preserved and the survival of an adjacent cairnfield adds
to its importance.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
McDonnell, J, A History of Helmsley Rievaulx and District, (1963), indexed

Source: Historic England

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