Ancient Monuments

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Cairnfield and embanked stone circle 550m east of Barbrook Reservoir

A Scheduled Monument in Holmesfield, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.2916 / 53°17'29"N

Longitude: -1.575 / 1°34'29"W

OS Eastings: 428427.434113

OS Northings: 377269.430819

OS Grid: SK284772

Mapcode National: GBR KZFC.TR

Mapcode Global: WHCCW.SJ6F

Entry Name: Cairnfield and embanked stone circle 550m east of Barbrook Reservoir

Scheduled Date: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020301

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31292

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Holmesfield

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Dronfield St John Baptist

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes a prehistoric cairnfield together with an embanked stone
circle providing evidence for Bronze Age settlement and ceremonial activity on
these moors.

The monument occupies a ridge of ground in open moorland. It comprises a
compact cairnfield on the periphery of which stands a stone circle. The
cairnfield consists of at least ten cairns which are covered with peat and
turf. They range between 2m and 7.5m in diameter with the largest example
standing to the south west of the stone circle in a relatively isolated
position: it has a slight disturbance to its centre. On the western edge of
the cairnfield stands an embanked stone circle. Its internal diameter is 26m
by 23.5m with the width of the enclosing embankment being 2m. On the inside
edge of the embankment stand 21 relatively small standing stones, between 0.4m
and 0.8m high, arranged in a circle. Some of these are leaning or have fallen
but only approximately four stones appear to be missing. A large stone now
lies immediately inside the circle. It appears to be a fallen standing stone
that once stood 1.15m high on the western side of the monument. There are
three entrances through the embankment, but not all may be original.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The East Moors in Derbyshire includes all the gritstone moors east of the
River Derwent. It covers an area of 105 sq km, of which around 63% is open
moorland and 37% is enclosed. As a result of recent and on-going
archaeological survey, the East Moors area is becoming one of the best
recorded upland areas in England. On the enclosed land the archaeological
remains are fragmentary, but survive sufficiently well to show that early
human activity extended beyond the confines of the open moors.
On the open moors there is significant and well-articulated evidence over
extensive areas for human exploitation of the gritstone uplands from the
Neolithic to the post-medieval periods. Bronze Age activity accounts for the
most intensive use of the moorlands. Evidence for it includes some of the
largest and best preserved field systems and cairnfields in northern England
as well as settlement sites, numerous burial monuments, stone circles and
other ceremonial remains which, together, provide a detailed insight into life
in the Bronze Age. Also of importance is the well preserved and often visible
relationship between the remains of earlier and later periods since this
provides an insight into successive changes in land use through time.
A large number of the prehistoric sites on the moors, because of their rarity
in a national context, excellent state of preservation and inter-connections,
will be identified as nationally important.

Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one
another. They often consist largely of clearance cairns, built with stone
gathered from the surrounding landsurface to improve its use for agriculture.
However, funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without
excavation it is impossible to determine which cairns contain burials.
Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period although the
majority of examples date from the 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. They also provide information on the diversity of beliefs and
social organisation during the prehistoric period.

Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of
upright or recumbent stones. The circle of stones may be surrounded by
earthwork features such as enclosing banks and ditches. Burial cairns may
also be found close to and, on occasion, within stone circles. Stone circles
are found throughout England although they are concentrated in western areas.
This distribution may be a reflection of present survival rather than an
original pattern. Where excavated, they have been found to date from the Late
Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000 BC). We do not fully
understand the uses for which these monuments were originally constructed but
it is clear that they had considerable importance for the societies that used
them. In some instances, excavation has shown that they provided a focus for
burials and the rituals that accompanied the interment of the dead. Some
circles appear to have held a calendrical function, carefully aligned to mark
the passage of time and the seasons. Other circles suggest through their
distribution that they provided some form of tribal gathering point for a
specific social group. As a rare monument type which provides an important
insight into prehistoric ceremonial activity, all surviving examples are
worthy of preservation.

The cairnfield and embanked stone circle 550m east of Barbrook Reservoir
survive well and are important to our understanding of prehistoric ceremonial
activities and the contemporary use of the surrounding landscape for
agricultural purposes.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 54-5
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 54-5
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986), 41-3
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986), 41-3

Source: Historic England

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