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Crosby Gill prehistoric cairnfield and field system and a dispersed medieval settlement and associated lynchets 450m west of Crosbythwaite

A Scheduled Monument in Ulpha, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.3441 / 54°20'38"N

Longitude: -3.2541 / 3°15'14"W

OS Eastings: 318571.579344

OS Northings: 495010.190483

OS Grid: SD185950

Mapcode National: GBR 5LQ6.9J

Mapcode Global: WH71H.Z2LK

Entry Name: Crosby Gill prehistoric cairnfield and field system and a dispersed medieval settlement and associated lynchets 450m west of Crosbythwaite

Scheduled Date: 10 October 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020279

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34972

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


The monument includes the earthworks and buried remains of Crosby Gill
prehistoric cairnfield and associated field system, and a dispersed medieval
settlement and associated lynchets 450m west of Crosbythwaite. It is located
on gently sloping enclosed land on the hillside west of Crosby Gill and
represents evidence for the prehistoric and medieval exploitation of this
The prehistoric cairnfield includes 28 circular and oval-shaped clearance
cairns up to 0.9m high; the circular cairns measure between 2.1m to 7m in
diameter while the oval-shaped cairns measure between 4.4m to 6.3m long by
2.3m to 4.9m wide. The associated prehistoric field system consists of two
irregularly-shaped stone-banked enclosures. The northern of these enclosures
is centred at SD18649507 and measures approximately 70m by 60m internally. The
enclosure is open on its south east side and contains a semi-circular
structure within its south western corner which has been partly disturbed by
construction of a later building platform. This structure appears to have an
entrance on its eastern side and may originally have been a small enclosure or
a large hut circle. Internally there are three clearance cairns within the
main prehistoric enclosure. A small `D'-shaped enclosure with an entrance on
its eastern side is attached to the outer wall on the prehistoric enclosure's
north east side; this enclosure may be an original feature or it may be
associated with a later building platform constructed immediately adjacent and
within the prehistoric enclosure. The southern prehistoric enclosure is
centred at SD18559482 and measures approximately 90m by 60m internally. It has
an entrance on its western side and contains three clearance cairns. A
sub-rectangular annexe with an entrance on its western side is attached to the
northern side of this enclosure.
The dispersed medieval settlement includes six building platforms, each
consisting of a rectangular terrace cut into the hillslope. The most prominent
is located at SD18589509; adjacent to this building platform is a stone-walled
enclosure measuring approximately 15 sq m with an entrance on its north side.
Another building platform lies about 20m to the north of this enclosure while
two more building platform are located about 30m to the south. The northern of
these two building platforms lies immediately outside the western corner of
the northern prehistoric enclosure, while the southern building platform
partly overlies an earlier structure situated within the prehistoric
enclosure's south western corner. Another building platform lies adjacent to
the eastern wall of the prehistoric enclosure. The remaining building platform
is situated at SD16619496 immediately east of a cluster of clearance cairns
and short lengths of stone walling. Associated with the dispersed medieval
settlement are strip lynchets characteristic of medieval cultivation. One of
the lynchets is centred at about SD18559517 while a group of four lynchets are
centred further downhill at about SD18659520 and run along the contour and
across the hillslope.
The boundary of a modern fir plantation is excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath it is included.

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.
Crosby Gill prehistoric cairnfield and associated field system 450m west 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 dispersed medieval settlement and associated lynchets
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


Books and journals
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosby Gill, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosby Gill, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosby Gill, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosby Gill, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosby Gill, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosby Gill, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosby Gill, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosby Gill, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosby Gill, (1984)
Leech, R H, Ulpha Fell Survey Catalogue: Crosby Gill, (1984)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 78-9

Source: Historic England

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