Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Cairnfield 1000m south east of Howdale Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Fylingdales, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.3949 / 54°23'41"N

Longitude: -0.5274 / 0°31'38"W

OS Eastings: 495706.007304

OS Northings: 500930.703524

OS Grid: NZ957009

Mapcode National: GBR SKRM.LB

Mapcode Global: WHGBC.WS0P

Entry Name: Cairnfield 1000m south east of Howdale Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 November 1934

Last Amended: 9 April 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019684

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34382

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Fylingdales

Built-Up Area: Robin Hood's Bay

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Ravenscar St Hilda

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a cairnfield located
on high ground in the middle of Howdale Moor. This is the easternmost extent
of the sandstone, heather covered moor characteristic of the North York Moors.
Today the moor is little used but archaeological evidence indicates that this
has not always been the case. The prehistoric period in particular saw
extensive agricultural use of the area. It was also then being used for
burials and activities associated with the carving of patterns on exposed
rock. Remains of these activities survive today.
The cairnfield occupies level ground to the south of a gradual downward
slope. The cairnfield includes at least 11 cairns and extends over an area
approximately 150m by 200m. The cairns are composed of stony mounds measuring
up to 8m in diameter and up to 0.5m in height. These are the result of stone
clearance in the Bronze Age to improve the land for farming. Evidence from
other similar monuments in the north of England shows that such cairns may
also have be used for burials or cremations. The settlement from which this
area of land was farmed has yet to be identified, although it is anticipated
to have been close by.
On the eastern edge of the monument there is a small standing stone which is a
post-medieval marker.

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

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.

The cairnfield 1000m south east of Howdale Farm has survived well. Significant
information about the original form of the cairns, any burials placed within
them and its relationship with other monuments will be preserved. Evidence of
earlier land use will also survive beneath the cairns.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, (1994), 109-122

Source: Historic England

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