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Prehistoric cairnfield, field system, two funerary cairns, a Romano-British farmstead, field system and a post-medieval haematite mine at Brantrake Moss

A Scheduled Monument in Eskdale, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.3709 / 54°22'15"N

Longitude: -3.3083 / 3°18'29"W

OS Eastings: 315105.070554

OS Northings: 498054.873875

OS Grid: SD151980

Mapcode National: GBR 5KBW.KX

Mapcode Global: WH719.4DXJ

Entry Name: Prehistoric cairnfield, field system, two funerary cairns, a Romano-British farmstead, field system and a post-medieval haematite mine at Brantrake Moss

Scheduled Date: 5 January 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019990

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32893

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 the earthworks and buried remains of a prehistoric
cairnfield with an associated field system and two funerary cairns, a
Romano-British farmstead consisting of two hut circles, two enclosures and an
associated field system, and a post-medieval haematite mine. The site has been
identified by a combination of field observation, limited excavation, aerial
photography and field survey. The monument is located on the lower,
south-facing slopes of Brantrake Crags overlooking Brantrake Moss and Black
Beck, and represents evidence of the Bronze Age, Romano-British and
post-medieval exploitation of this landscape.
The prehistoric cairnfield is centred at approximately SD15109805 and includes
over 60 circular and oval-shaped clearance cairns up to 1m high. The circular
cairns measure between 1.5m and 4.5m in diameter while the oval-shaped cairns
measure between 2.7m and 6.4m long by 1.5m to 5.4m wide. The field system
associated with the cairnfield is located towards the south western end of the
monument, centred at approximately SD15019795, and includes three lengths of
stone bank or wall partially enclosing an area devoid of cairns which is
considered to originally have been a field. Nearby are three short lengths of
irregularly-shaped walling of uncertain function. Adjacent to these walls are
two funerary cairns. The southern cairn measures approximately 12m long by 8m
wide and up to 1m high with a stone kerb and disturbed centre revealing a
stone cist within which the deceased's body or ashes would have been placed.
The northern cairn measures approximately 7.5m in diameter and up to 1m
high and is partially surrounded by a shallow ditch.
The Romano-British settlement consists of the remains of two stone-walled hut
circles, one located at SD15149804, the other a short distance to the north
east at SD15179808. The western hut has an entrance on its south eastern side
and a small annexe on its north eastern side, while the eastern hut has
entrances on the south and north west sides and an annexe on the north side.
The associated field system includes two stone-walled enclosures adjacent to
the huts; the western enclosure being roughly triangular in plan with internal
dimensions of 15.4m by 11.5m and an entrance on the south, the eastern
enclosure being oval in plan with internal dimensions of 11.5m by 8m and an
entrance on the north east side. To the north east of this group of huts and
enclosures are the fragmentary remains of numerous lengths of stone bank or
wall which may originally have formed a large enclosure. Limited excavation of
this wall during the 1960s indicated that it was constructed at some time
between 200-580 AD. Further evidence of the field system comes from an aerial
photograph which clearly shows areas of past ploughing on the hillslope above
and to the north west of the Romano-British settlement.
The remains of a post-medieval haematite mine are located at SD15039811 and
consists of a trench dug into the hillside which led to a now blocked adit or
level. Two spoil heaps are associated with the adit; one lies adjacent while
the other runs along the contour a short distance below the adit.

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.

In Cumbria several distinctive types of native settlement dating to the Roman
period have been identified. The majority were small non-defensive, enclosed
homesteads or farms. In many areas they were of stone construction, although
in the coastal lowlands timber-built variants were also common. These
farmsteads were being built and used by non-Roman natives throughout the Roman
occupation and their origins lie in settlement forms developed before the
arrival of the Romans. These farmsteads are common throughout the uplands
where they frequently survive as well-preserved earthworks. All homestead
sites which survive substantially intact will normally be identified as
nationally important.
Iron has been produced in England from at least 500 BC and the iron industry,
spurred on by a succession of technological developments, has played a major
part in the history of the country, its production and overall importance
peaking with the Industrial Revolution. Iron exploitation within the Cumbrian
fells was spasmodic due to transportation difficulties and low iron prices and
it wasn't until the 1860s that serious attempts to mine veins of haematite
began. Major haematite workings were exploited on both sides of the Eskdale
valley during the latter decades of the 19th century and production from these
was enhanced by numerous small workings dotting the valley sides.
The prehistoric cairnfield, associated field system and two funerary cairns at
Brantrake Moss survive reasonably well and form part of a 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. Additionally a Romano-British farmstead and
associated field system also survives well and will facilitate any further
study of Romano-British settlement patterns in the area. Similarly the
post-medieval haematite mine will contribute to the knowledge and further
study of the Cumbrian iron industry. Overall the monument is a rare example of
a landscape within which evidence of human exploitation is visible through a
range of well-preserved monuments dating to the prehistoric, Romano-British
and post-medieval periods.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Leech, R, Birkby Fell Survey Catalogue, (1982)
Leech, R, Birkby Fell Survey Catalogue, (1982)
Leech, R, Birkby Fell Survey Catalogue, (1982)
Leech, R, Birkby Fell Survey Catalogue, (1982)
Leech, R, Birkby Fell Survey Catalogue, (1982)
Leech, R, Birkby Fell Survey Catalogue, (1982)
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)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 60-73
Fell, C I, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in A Settlement at Brantrake Moss, North of Devoke Water, , Vol. LXXI, (1971), 287-9
SMR No. 9461, Cumbria SMR, Brantrake Moss, Birkby Fell,

Source: Historic England

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