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Cairnfield and ring cairn 900m north west of Three Lords' Stones

A Scheduled Monument in Fylingdales, North Yorkshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.393 / 54°23'34"N

Longitude: -0.5222 / 0°31'19"W

OS Eastings: 496050.321952

OS Northings: 500725.173455

OS Grid: NZ960007

Mapcode National: GBR SKSN.R0

Mapcode Global: WHGBC.YVH5

Entry Name: Cairnfield and ring cairn 900m north west of Three Lords' Stones

Scheduled Date: 15 November 1934

Last Amended: 9 April 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019695

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31375

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

Details

The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a cairnfield located
on the south eastern flank of Howdale Moor. The monument occupies level ground
to the east of a small gill with land sloping down to the south and east.
Howdale Moor 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 used for burials and activities associated with the
carving of patterns on exposed rock. Remains of these activities survive
today.
The cairnfield includes at least 18 cairns and extends over an area
approximately 240m by 200m. The cairns are constructed of stony mounds
measuring up to 5m 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 been used for burials or cremations. The field system associated
with the clearance cairns is indicated by sinuous linear earthworks
which are interpreted as the remains of field boundaries. There are two
separate lengths of field system surviving as low earth and stone banks. One
of these extends east to west for 50m and is 3m wide and 0.25m high. The
second has a reverse `S'-shaped bank which measures up to 2m wide and 0.25m
high with a total length of 70m. The settlement from which this area of land
was farmed has yet to be identified but is thought to be located nearby.
The ring cairn is identified on the map as an `enclosure'. It is identifiable
as a circular bank with an overall external diameter of 20m. The bank is 2.5m
wide and up to 0.75m high. There is a gap in the eastern side of the bank
thought to be the result of investigations in the past.

MAP EXTRACT
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.

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank up to
20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may have stone
kerbing on the inside and outside made up of small uprights or laid boulders.
Ring cairns are mainly found in upland areas of England and are mostly
discovered and authenticated by fieldwork. They often occur in pairs or small
groups and are occasionally associated with round barrow cemeteries. Ring
cairns are interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age
date. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but
excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing
charcoal and pottery taken to indicate feasting activities associated with
burial rites. As a relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable
variation in form, all postively identified examples retaining significant
archaeological deposits are considered worthy of preservation.
Ring cairns are unusual on the North York Moors and this is an important and
well-preserved example. The cairnfield and ring cairn have survived well, so
significant information about the relationship between them, their original
form and any burials placed within them will be preserved. Evidence of earlier
land use will also survive beneath the monument.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Smith, M J B, Excavated Bronze Age Burial Mounds of Durham and N' land., (1994), 1-38
Spratt, D A, Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, (1994), 109-122

Source: Historic England

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