Ancient Monuments

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Maw Rigg cairnfield in Langdale Forest

A Scheduled Monument in Darncombe-cum-Langdale End, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.3331 / 54°19'59"N

Longitude: -0.5874 / 0°35'14"W

OS Eastings: 491949.520877

OS Northings: 493979.4328

OS Grid: SE919939

Mapcode National: GBR SLBB.MG

Mapcode Global: WHGBQ.YCF0

Entry Name: Maw Rigg cairnfield in Langdale Forest

Scheduled Date: 24 November 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019631

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34561

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Darncombe-cum-Langdale End

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


The monument includes a cairnfield situated on the narrow sandstone ridge
between Stockland Beck and Hipperley Beck, in the south eastern part of
Langdale Forest.
The cairnfield consists of at least 185 cairns, many of them well-defined,
distributed across the very gentle south east facing slope of the ridge,
largely between the 150m and 190m contours. There are two dense concentrations
of cairns towards the northern end of the cairnfield and four more dispersed
groups; two at the southern end of the ridge and one each at the western and
northern extremities of the cairnfield. The cairns are sub-circular mounds
constructed from medium-sized stones and small boulders, although there are
one or two which are more elongated in shape. Some are built around large
erratic boulders. Most are between 3m and 5m in diameter, although there are a
few smaller and larger. They stand between 0.3m to 0.6m high. In a few places
the cairns have been damaged by forestry ploughing and some of these have been
reduced in height to less than 0.3m. The majority are field clearance cairns
which are the result of clearing the ground to improve it for agriculture, but
some of the larger cairns were also used as burial mounds. Interspersed
between the cairns in the northern concentrations, traces of tumbled walling
are visible. These are interpreted as part of the field systems which were in
use with the clearance cairns.
The cairnfield lies in an area where there are many prehistoric burial
monuments as well as further field systems and clearance cairns.
The surface of the gravelled forestry track which runs in a north west to
south east direction through the western edge of the cairnfield is excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 landsurface 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.

Despite limited disturbance the Maw Rigg cairnfield in Langdale Forest has
survived well. Significant information about its form and development will
survive. Evidence for the nature of Bronze Age agriculture and earlier land
use will be preserved in the old ground surface between and beneath the
The cairnfield is situated within an area which includes many prehistoric
burial monuments. Associations such as this offer important scope for the
study of the relationship between agricultural and ritual activity in the
prehistoric period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Spratt, D A , 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology in North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, , Vol. 87, (1993)
Title: Forestry Commission Areas North York Moors Archaeological Survey
Source Date: 1992
Sites 2.129-235 and 2.240-246
Title: Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 25" sheet 61/16
Source Date: 1892

Source: Historic England

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