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Prehistoric hut circle settlement and cairnfield, three medieval settlements and associated field systems, and two shielings north of Crosbythwaite

A Scheduled Monument in Ulpha, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.3489 / 54°20'56"N

Longitude: -3.2477 / 3°14'51"W

OS Eastings: 318996.527408

OS Northings: 495539.859669

OS Grid: SD189955

Mapcode National: GBR 5LR4.PS

Mapcode Global: WH71B.2YRD

Entry Name: Prehistoric hut circle settlement and cairnfield, three medieval settlements and associated field systems, and two shielings north of Crosbythwaite

Scheduled Date: 15 June 1972

Last Amended: 10 October 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020278

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34971

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Ulpha

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Broughton-in-Furness St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of an unenclosed
prehistoric hut circle settlement and associated cairnfield, three medieval
settlements and associated field systems, and two medieval shielings. It is
located on gently sloping enclosed land north of Crosbythwaite and represents
evidence for the prehistoric and medieval exploitation of this landscape.
The prehistoric hut circle settlement consists of the remains of 11 stone huts
scattered mainly on the lower slopes towards the monument's west and south
western side. The largest hut is situated at SD19079543, a short distance
south of a substantial rectangular terraced area considered to have been a
platform upon which a number of huts would have stood. A cairnfield consisting
of almost 200 clearance cairns is centred at approximately SD18979553. Whilst
this cairnfield was undoubtably originally a product of prehistoric stone
clearance, further stone clearance occured during the medieval period and some
of the resultant cairns were utilised to partially form the boundaries of a
large field system associated with the medieval settlements.
The eastern of the three medieval settlements is centred at approximately
SD19219550. It consists of the remains of three rectangular stone buildings,
two of which form two sides of a stone-walled courtyard. One of these
buildings has an annexe on its south side, another has a square outbuilding on
its south side, while the third has a stone-walled enclosure immediately to
the south. Areas of ridge and furrow to the east and south and a series of
banks, ditches and walls, indicate the associated field system in the
settlement's immediate vicinity. Remains of a second medieval settlement lie a
short distance to the south west at SD19149544. Although not as well-preserved
as the settlement previously described there are traces of a group of three
stone-built rectangular buildings. Lynchets, walls and an area of ridge and
furrow to the south west indicate the associated field system in this
settlement's immediate vicinity. The third medieval settlement, centred at
SD18859554, is of markedly different form than the other two. It consists of a
three-sided stone-walled enclosure situated at the junction of four trackways.
There is an entrance in the enclosure's east side and within are traces of two
rectangular structures. To the east of the enclosure there is a levelled area
bounded by a stone wall and a lynchet which is considered to have been a
building platform, while to the north and west of the enclosure other features
include a semi-circular stone-walled enclosure and a field enclosed by
trackways. This settlement, as well as being the focus for a number of
trackways which all lead to it, lies at the hub of a large field system
consisting of 13 predominantly irregularly-shaped fields, some of which may
have prehistoric origins. These fields are bounded by a combination of cairn
alignments, lynchets, walls, banks, ditches and trackways.
Medieval transhumance, the moving of stock from low lying winter grazing to
upland summer pasture, is attested here by the remains of two shielings
situated side by side at SD19209560. Each is a rectangular single-roomed
stone-built structure measuring about 7m by 5m. The northern shieling has an
entrance on its east side.
All modern field boundaries and gateposts are excluded from the scheduling
although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

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.

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size, and type, and the protection of their archaeological remains
needs to take these differences into account. To do this England has been
divided into three broad Provinces on the basis of each area's distinctive
mixture of nucleated and dispersed settlements. These can be further divided
into sub-Provinces and local regions, possessing characteristics which have
gradually evolved during the past 1500 years or more.
This monument lies in the Cumbria-Solway sub-Province of the Northern and
Western Province, an area characterised by dispersed hamlets and farmsteads,
but with some larger nucleated settlements in well-defined agriculturally
favoured areas, established after the Norman Conquest. Traces of seasonal
settlements, or shielings, dominate the high, wet and windy uplands, where
surrounding communities grazed their livestock during the summer months.
The Lake District local region is characterised by a series of mountain blocks
separated by deep valleys, providing great variation in local terrain.
Settlement is sparce, but villages and hamlets occassionally appear in the
valleys. Higher up, beyond the head-dyke, are traces of medieval and earlier
settlements in farmlands since abandoned.
In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the
landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed settlement in an
area, usually a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single (or
principal) nucleated settlement focus such as a village and the presence
instead of small settlement units (small hamlets or farmsteads) spread across
the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection
with their close neighbours, for example, in relation to shared common land or
road systems. Dispersed settlements varied enormously from region to region,
but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include
roads and other minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other
buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In areas
where stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations may
still be clearly visible. Communal areas of the settlement frequently include
features such as bakehouses, pinfolds and ponds. Areas of dispersed medieval
settlement are found in both the South Eastern Province and the Northern and
Western Province of England. They are found in upland and also some lowland
areas. Where found their archaeological remains are one of the most important
sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries
following the Norman Conquest.
Medieval enclosed field systems comprise fields defined and enclosed by a
physical boundary. These boundaries can take various forms including walls,
hedges, earth and stone banks and ditches. Component features common to most
enclosed field systems include ridge and furrow and lynchets. The development
of enclosed field systems during the medieval period was a response to
population pressure and expansion onto marginal land, and the extent and
morphology of these field systems resulted from the nature of the topography
and social and economic constraints such as the size of the population they
were intended to support. The majority of enclosed field systems are thought
to have been used for pasture but others contained cultivated ground. Some
continued in use throughout the post-medieval period and are a major feature
of the modern landscape. They occur widely throughout England with a tendancy
towards upland areas associated with largely dispersed settlement patterns.
Medieval enclosed field systems offer good opportunities for understanding
medieval rural economy and provide valuable evidence regarding the morphology
of field systems, their extent and distribution.
Shielings were small seasonally occupied huts which were built to provide
shelter for herdsmen who tended animals grazing summer pasture on upland or
marshland. These huts reflect a system called transhumance, whereby stock was
moved in spring from lowland pasture around the permanently occupied farms to
communal upland grazing during the warmer summer months. Settlement patterns
reflecting transhumance are known from the Bronze Age, however, the
construction of herdsmen's huts in a form distinctive from the normal dwelling
houses of farms only appears from the early medieval period onwards (about 450
AD). Shielings are reasonably common in the uplands but frequently represent
the only evidence for medieval settlement and farming practice here. Those
examples which survive well and help illustrate medieval land use in an area
are considered to be nationally important.
The prehistoric hut circle settlement and cairnfield north of Crosbythwaite
survives well and forms part of a well-preserved prehistoric landscape
extending along the fellsides of south west Cumbria. In conjunction with a
wide range of other prehistoric monuments in the vicinity it represents
evidence of long term management and exploitation of this area in prehistoric
times. Additionally the three medieval dispersed settlements and associated
enclosed field systems, together with the two medieval shielings, also survive
well and will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of settlement and
economy during the medieval period. 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 and medieval
periods.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1984)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 79-85
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 79-85
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1983), 79-85
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 79-86
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 79-85
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 79-85
Other
Site 83/471, Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosbythwaite, (1983)

Source: Historic England

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