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Hesk Fell prehistoric cairnfield and funerary cairn, a linear boundary, and a dispersed medieval settlement and field system 840m west of Horseman Gate

A Scheduled Monument in Ulpha, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.3359 / 54°20'9"N

Longitude: -3.2553 / 3°15'19"W

OS Eastings: 318473.080027

OS Northings: 494099.107532

OS Grid: SD184940

Mapcode National: GBR 5LQ9.0G

Mapcode Global: WH71H.Z80V

Entry Name: Hesk Fell prehistoric cairnfield and funerary cairn, a linear boundary, and a dispersed medieval settlement and field system 840m west of Horseman Gate

Scheduled Date: 10 October 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020280

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34973

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 Hesk Fell
prehistoric cairnfield and funerary cairn, a linear boundary, and a dispersed
medieval settlement and associated field system 840m west of Horseman Gate. It
is located on gently sloping enclosed land on the south eastern slopes of Hesk
Fell and represents prehistoric and medieval exploitation of this landscape.
The earliest feature at this monument is a prehistoric cairnfield which
includes over 70 circular and oval-shaped clearance cairns up to 0.5m high.
The circular cairns measure between 1.9m to 6.6m in diameter while the
oval-shaped cairns measure between 5.2m to 16.4m long by 1.3m to 4.9m wide.
Towards the eastern end of the cairnfield, at SD18549403, there is what is
interpreted as a prehistoric funerary cairn. It measures 6.6m in diameter by
0.6m high and has been disturbed at its centre by unrecorded investigation in
the past. At an unknown date after the creation of the cairnfield a linear
boundary consisting of nine lengths of stone bank or wall was built running
through the cairnfield on a north east-south west alignment for about 370m.
During the medieval period a dispersed settlement was constructed consisting
of a large `D'-shaped enclosure measuring about 114m by 86m internally, two
huts and two small stock pens. The central part of the existing linear
boundary was used as a wall for the `D'-shaped enclosure and at the two points
where the enclosure wall and the linear boundary met, two single-roomed stone
huts were constructed. The south western of these huts is rectangular in plan
with an entrance leading from the `D'-shaped enclosure, while the slightly
larger north eastern hut has an entrance leading from the adjacent hillside.
The `D'-shaped enclosure has three narrow entrances, one adjacent to each of
the huts, another on its eastern side. There are no signs of cultivation
within this enclosure and despite its narrow entrances it is interpreted as a
stock enclosure, with the associated structures considered to have been
herdsmen's huts. On the opposite side of the linear boundary, adjacent to the
south western hut, are two small enclosures interpreted as stock pens. The
eastern stock pen has a single entrance on its north east side, while the
western stock pen has two entrances, one giving access from the northern side
of the linear boundary the other giving access from the southern side of the
linear boundary.

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

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.

Medieval rural settlements in England were marked by great regional diversity
in form, size, and type. 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. 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.
Hesk Fell prehistoric cairnfield and funerary cairn 840m west of Horseman Gate
survives reasonably 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 linear boundary and the dispersed medieval settlement
and associated enclosed field system 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
Quartermaine, J, Hesk Fell Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Hesk Fell Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Hesk Fell Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Hesk Fell Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Hesk Fell Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Hesk Fell Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Hesk Fell Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Hesk Fell Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Draft survey report, Quartermaine, J, Hesk Fell,
Draft survey report, Quartermaine, J, Hesk Fell,

Source: Historic England

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