Ancient Monuments

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Cairnfield, field system and ring cairn 610m south east of Foulsike Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Fylingdales, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4048 / 54°24'17"N

Longitude: -0.5879 / 0°35'16"W

OS Eastings: 491760.221769

OS Northings: 501952.924893

OS Grid: NZ917019

Mapcode National: GBR SKBH.JS

Mapcode Global: WHGBB.YK72

Entry Name: Cairnfield, field system and ring cairn 610m south east of Foulsike Farm

Scheduled Date: 21 November 1962

Last Amended: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019725

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34411

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Fylingdales

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Fylingdales St Stephen

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a cairnfield located
on improved moorland to the north of Biller Howe Dale. An associated field
system and a ring cairn are also included. The bulk of the monument lies in
rough grassland with the northern part lying in a ploughed and improved grass
field. The monument lies at the eastern side of the sandstone, predominantly
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 use of the
area for burials and agriculture. Remains of these activities survive today.
The monument extends over an area approximately 300m north west-south east by
150m north east-south west. The cairnfield originally extended further to the
north east into land now enclosed and improved. The cairnfield includes at
least 15 clearance cairns. These are composed 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 be used for burials. The field system associated with the clearance
cairns is indicated by at least four lengths of linear banks which are
interpreted as the remains of field boundaries. The banks are built of earth
and stone and measure up to 2.5m wide and are up to 0.4m high. The longest
section extends north to south for 70m. The settlement from which this area of
land was farmed has yet to be identified.
The ring cairn is located at grid referance NZ91740191. It survives as a
circular earth and stone built bank with an overall external diameter of 7m.
The bank is 2m wide and up to 0.4m high.

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.

In addition to clearance cairns prehistoric fields were also defined by
earthen banks. These can vary in size and in some cases can be several
kilometres long dividing the land into large elaborate complexes of fields.
Their longevity and their relationship with other monument types provide
important information on the diversity of social organisation, land division
and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities.
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 the outside may be made up of small uprights or laid
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 and
cairnfields. 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 positively 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, field system and ring cairn 610m south
east of Foulsike Farm 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


Books and journals
Spratt, D A, Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, (1994), 109-122
Spratt, D A, Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, (1994), 104-122
Pacitto, A L, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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