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Prehistoric hut circle settlements, enclosure, cairnfields, funerary cairns, a dispersed medieval settlement, field system and kilns on Heathwaite Fell

A Scheduled Monument in Blawith and Subberthwaite, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.2764 / 54°16'35"N

Longitude: -3.1467 / 3°8'47"W

OS Eastings: 325432.054638

OS Northings: 487361.710546

OS Grid: SD254873

Mapcode National: GBR 6LGZ.KS

Mapcode Global: WH71R.MRSZ

Entry Name: Prehistoric hut circle settlements, enclosure, cairnfields, funerary cairns, a dispersed medieval settlement, field system and kilns on Heathwaite Fell

Scheduled Date: 12 November 1928

Last Amended: 16 October 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020802

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34990

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Blawith and Subberthwaite

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Kirkby Ireleth St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument, which falls into 14 separate areas of protection, includes
the earthworks and buried remains of two prehistoric hut circle
settlements, an enclosure, individual hut circles, cairnfields, funerary
cairns, a dispersed medieval settlement and its associated field system,
and three kilns, as surveyed by Quartermaine in 1987. It is located on the
raised but undulating plateau of Heathwaite Fell and represents evidence
of the Bronze Age and medieval exploitation of this landscape. The
monument consists of a large, central core area containing one of the hut
circle settlements, two individual hut circles, the bulk of the clearance
cairns, a small number of funerary cairns, the dispersed medieval
settlement and its field system and the kilns. Scattered around this core
area are a group of satellite monuments including a second hut circle
settlement, other individual hut circles and platforms, an enclosure,
funerary cairns and small cairnfields.

The core area, which is centred at approximately SD25358740, contains the
larger of the two prehistoric hut circle settlements. This hut circle
settlement is centred at approximately SD25408704 and consists of a group
of eight circular or oval platforms terraced into a steep slope. They vary
in size from 2.5m to 8.4m in diameter and are considered to be hut or
building platforms. Two other hut platforms are located to the west at
SD25118735 and SD25178748. Throughout the core area, but concentrated more
in the south and west parts, are over 200 clearance cairns and short
lengths of stone bank. These represent the deliberate clearing of stone
from the land in order to render the ground suitable for agricultural
cultivation or stock control. Five of the cairns within this cairnfield
are considered to be funerary monuments; these are generally larger and
better constructed than the clearance cairns and are positioned on
prominent locations. The dispersed medieval settlement and its associated
field system overlies much of the core area and thus includes within it
numerous prehistoric features. It consists of a farmstead of more than one
period of construction, located at SD25358729. The farmstead comprises
five interlinked stone-walled enclosures, two of which contain improved
land suggesting agricultural cultivation and three of which contain
unimproved land suggesting stock control. Immediately north of the largest
enclosure there is an oval-shaped semicircular platform with walling
around the inner edge of the terrace which is interpreted as the site of a
domestic structure, whilst elsewhere within the enclosures there are three
small rectangular stone strutures of uncertain function. The associated
field system comprises a series of extended banks and walls centred upon
the farmstead which define the approximate boundaries of two and possibly
three large fields. The southern field encloses an area of about 5.3ha and
contains a cairnfield and some faint narrow ridge and furrow oriented
north-south. The western field encloses an area of about 5.7ha and
contains extensive ridge and furrow which is compromised by a large
cairnfield causing the ridge and furrow to change orientation in places to
avoid various cairns. Only in the north west part of the field, where
there are no cairns, is there ridge and furrow of a uniform pattern. The
possible third field lies to the east and north east of the farmstead but
is only partly enclosed. It too was partly cultivated as evidenced by
occasional patches of ridge and furrow. A smaller fourth field, only
partly enclosed and containing faint ridge and furrow, is located at
SD25608772, while a small enclosure with an entrance on its north side and
traces of a possible stone structure adjacent to the entrance is located
at SD25208723. Three kilns lie close to the farmstead, two to the west and
one to the east. They are sturdy, circular stone-walled features with
thick outer banks and deep internally revetted central hollows. Two of the
three kilns appear to have been constructed from former cairns and two
have entrances. They were used to produce ashes, known as potash, from
bracken or wood, the ash then being used for the early lyes and later
soaps of the woollen trade. Alternatively they may have produced
kilnwood, a dried timber free of sap which was used to smelt lead ore.

South of the core area, centred at SD25458683 (area 02) on lower ground
either side of a rocky knoll, is a small prehistoric hut circle settlement
consisting of three circular platforms between 2m-4m in diameter terraced
into the hillslope, a sunken circular hollow considered to be the site of
an isolated hut about 120m south west of the three platforms, a small
cairnfield and a funerary cairn. Centred at SD25428622 (area 03) is a
rectangular-shaped stone-walled stock enclosure, a hut circle and a small
cairnfield. The enclosure is divided into two similar sized parts with
three entrances directly into the southern part but no direct access into
the northern part, access to the northern part being via a single entrance
from the southern part. About 80m to the north east there is a small
circular hut and to the south of this hut are a group of five clearance
cairns. Centred at SD25748645 (area 04) is a small cairnfield consisting
of 18 clearance cairns together with two funerary cairns. The northern
funerary cairn has been mutilated by stone robbing to construct a shelter
on one side while the southern cairn has a central depression, probably
the result of antiquarian disturbance. About 200m to the north east (area
05) are two more funerary cairns both exhibiting signs of past
disturbance. Centred at SD25848762 (area 06) is a group of eight
predominantly large cairns some of which have central depressions
suggesting antiquarian disturbance. These cairns are not typical of stone
clearance mounds and may have had a funerary function. About 300m further
north (area 07) is a small group of clearance cairns, a length of stone
bank, and a circular well-defined prominent mound with a central
depression which is considered to be a funerary cairn. At SD25638796 (area
08) there is a disturbed funerary cairn, one of two known as Giants Graves
which were investigated in 1842. Charred bones and a stone ring were
found at the centre of the cairn during the investigation. The other cairn
lies at SD25588803 (area 09) and contained charred bones covered by a thin
flat stone in the centre of the circle. Centred at SD25028824 (area 10)
are two large funerary cairns, a hut platform terraced into the hillslope,
and a single clearance cairn, whilst a short distance to the north, at
SD24988833 (area 11), there are the remains of a hut circle with an
entrance on its north east side. Centred at SD24998849 (area 12) is an
alignment of five clearance cairns and a larger, prominently situated
oval-shaped cairn considered to have been a funerary monument. The
clearance cairns are aligned north west-south east and may reflect a
prehistoric boundary line. To the north, at SD24968867 (area 13), is a
well-defined circular ring cairn 10m in diameter which is considered to be
a funerary monument, whilst on slightly higher ground some 75m to the east
(area 14) is a hut platform consisting of an oval terrace set into the
hillslope with a corresponding mound of spoil on the downslope side.

An information post, the surface of a minor road and the surfaces of
trackways 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.

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 poulation 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.

Potash kilns were used to make potash from bracken or wood for use in the
early lyes and later soaps of the woollen trade. They are particularly
common in south Cumbria where they supplied the local fulling mills which
in turn related to the cloth industry based around Kendal and its
hinterland. The kilns themselves are substantial stone-built structures
being internally a squat, inverted, cone cylinder as wide across the rim
as it is deep and narrowing to a smaller diameter at the base with an air
tunnel at ground level. Kilnwood kilns, whilst sharing a similar
geographical distribution as potash kilns, are less common and although of
the same general external appearance they are much larger, being wider and
deeper and having a thicker enclosing wall. They were used to dry wood for
use in the lead smelting process, particularly prior to the 18th century.

The prehistoric hut circle settlements, enclosure, cairnfields and funerary
cairns on Heathwaite Fell survive well and form part of a well-preserved
prehistoric landscape extending along the fellsides of south west Cumbria
which together represent evidence of long-term management and exploitation of
this area in prehistoric times. Additionally the dispersed medieval settlement
and its associated field system and kilns also survive well and will add
greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the 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
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 1-18
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 1-18

Source: Historic England

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