Ancient Monuments

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Great Crag prehistoric cairnfield and associated field system 710m south east of Birkerthwaite

A Scheduled Monument in Eskdale, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.3682 / 54°22'5"N

Longitude: -3.256 / 3°15'21"W

OS Eastings: 318496.29862

OS Northings: 497694.245359

OS Grid: SD184976

Mapcode National: GBR 5KPX.WW

Mapcode Global: WH719.YGPL

Entry Name: Great Crag prehistoric cairnfield and associated field system 710m south east of Birkerthwaite

Scheduled Date: 5 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019613

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32887

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Eskdale

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Eskdale St Catherine

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes Great Crag prehistoric cairnfield and associated field
system, located on the col between Great Crag and Little Crag, 710m south east
of Birkerthwaite. It represents Bronze Age exploitation of this landscape and
includes 13 circular and oval-shaped clearance cairns up to 0.5m high. The
circular cairns measure between 1.7m and 5.5m in diameter while the oval-
shaped cairns measure between 2m to 6m long by 1m to 3.2m wide. Associated
with the cairnfield is a field system consisting of a `D'-shaped enclosure
measuring a maximum of about 90m by 70m which is crossed by a later drystone
wall. There are gaps on the enclosure's north and north eastern sides which
may have been entrances. The interior is devoid of features except for a
single cairn. To the south of the enclosure there is a curvilinear length of
stone wall or bank which, together with the south west wall of the enclosure,
forms the boundary of an area which is devoid of cairns and may have
originally been a field plot.
The later drystone wall crossing the `D'-shaped enclosure is excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath it 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.

Despite being crossed by a later drystone wall, Great Crag prehistoric
cairnfield and associated field system 710m south east of Birkerthwaite
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, the monument
represents evidence of long term management and exploitation of this area in
prehistoric times.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Leech, R, Birkby Fell Survey Catalogue, (1982)
Leech, R, Birkby Fell Survey Catalogue, (1982)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 60-73
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 60-73

Source: Historic England

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