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Mickleden Beck prehistoric cairnfield and field system, funerary cairn and a medieval dispersed settlement centred 840m south west of Pike of Stickle

A Scheduled Monument in Lakes, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.4509 / 54°27'3"N

Longitude: -3.1303 / 3°7'49"W

OS Eastings: 326809.3304

OS Northings: 506751.5371

OS Grid: NY268067

Mapcode National: GBR 6JLZ.38

Mapcode Global: WH70Z.WDK7

Entry Name: Mickleden Beck prehistoric cairnfield and field system, funerary cairn and a medieval dispersed settlement centred 840m south west of Pike of Stickle

Scheduled Date: 12 November 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021143

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35016

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Lakes

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Langdale Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument, which falls into six separate areas of protection, includes
the earthworks and buried remains of Mickleden Beck prehistoric
cairnfield, an associated field system, a funerary cairn and a medieval
dispersed settlement. It is located on unenclosed land along the valley
floor either side of Mickleden Beck and is centred 840m south west of
Pike of Stickle. The monument represents evidence for the prehistoric and
medieval exploitation of this landscape.

The prehistoric cairnfield consists of four groups of round and
oval-shaped clearance cairns, two on the north bank of Mickleden Beck, two
on the south bank. The group centred at NY27180645 consists of over 30
cairns up to 0.7m high; the round cairns measure between 1.9m to 5.4m in
diameter while the oval-shaped cairns measure between 1.8m to 19m long by
1.8m to 6.9m wide. Within this group of cairns there is part of an
associated field system comprising discontinuous and generally irregular
stone banks and elongated cairns following the alignment of the valley. A
cross-valley stone bank has a greater width and stone volume than the
valley-aligned bank. The cairn group centred at NY27060624 consists of
over 20 cairns up to 0.6m high; the round cairns measure between 3m to
5.4m in diameter while the oval-shaped cairns measure between 2.3m to 11m
long by 1.8m to 6.6m wide. There are two alignments of elongated cairns
suggesting that these may have been constructed along the lines of former
boundaries. At the eastern end of this group of cairns there is a short
length of stone bank. The cairn group centred at NY26800676 consists of
over 30 cairns up to 0.6m high; the round cairns measure between 2m to 8m
in diameter while the oval-shaped cairns measure between 1.9m to 14m long
by 1.8m to 6m wide. Within this group of cairns there are further traces
of the associated field system, the most significant element being a
cross-valley wall and a series of stone banks meandering along the valley.
As with the previously described cross-valley wall this one is also much
more substantially built than the valley-aligned banks. Pollen samples
taken from beneath both of the cross-valley walls suggest a pre-medieval
date. The stone banks include cairns within their overall alignments and
their form is more consistent with stone clearance which may have been
deposited against former boundary markers. They appear to define two
irregular and discontinuous lines along the valley. The cairn group
centred at NY26320689 consists of seven cairns up to 0.7m high; the round
cairns measure between 2.7m to 3.5m in diamater while the oval-shaped
cairns measure between 3.3m to 5m long by 2.5m to 4m wide. There is a
small semi-circular stone bank just to the north of the cairns. To the
south east of this cairn group there is a field consisting of a
gently-sloping area of cleared pasture bounded by streams on three sides
and a continuous decayed stone wall on the remaining side. This wall
effectively acts as the fourth side of an enclosing quadrilateral as it
links two parallel streams. There are two entrances through the wall, one
at the north end the other near the centre. This enclosed land is largely
clear of surface stone, is well-drained, and is relatively good quality
pasture land. Within the field there is a single oval-shaped cairn which
is interpreted as a funerary cairn. It consists of a small circle of
approximately 20 stones which define an external kerb surrounding a
slightly raised scatter of smaller stones. It measures 4m by 3m and is
0.25m high with a slight surface depression possibly indicative of
disturbance. The form of this cairn corresponds with the Kerb Cairn
monument type, and excavated Scottish examples are typically dated to the
later Bronze Age. At NY26200733 there are the remains of a rectangular
stock enclosure bounded by a series of stone banks and cairns. There is a
small circular stone-free shelter built into the enclosure's south west

The medieval dispersed settlement consists of the remains of four
structures located at either side of the valley track at the eastern end
of the monument. South of the track, at NY27160633, there is a
single-roomed building measuring 14m long by 7m wide with turf-covered
walls up to 0.4m high and an entrance on its western side. Adjacent is a
less well-defined structure consisting of a `boat'-shaped bank of stones
enclosing a stone-free area. North of the track, at NY27310647, there is a
two-roomed stone-walled structure measuring 13m long by 7m wide with an
entrance into the larger western room on its south side. About 60m to the
south east is a less well-preserved structure measuring 9m long by 8m wide
with entrances at both east and west ends. Immediately adjacent to its
south east side is a pile of stones which may be a small cairn or,
alternatively, the collapsed gable end of the structure.

A modern drystone wall and the surface of the valley track are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is

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 sparse, but villages and hamlets occasionally 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. Areas of dispersed medieval settlement are found in
both the South East Province and Northern and Western Province of England
where they occupy both upland and lowland areas.

Mickledon Beck prehistoric cairnfield, associated field system, and
funerary cairn 840m south west of Pike of Stickle survives reasonably well
and forms an outlying part of a large area of well-preserved prehistoric
landscape extending along the fellsides of south west Cumbria which
represents evidence of long term management and exploitation of this area
in prehistoric times. Additionally the medieval dispersed settlement also
survives reasonably well and will add greatly to our knowledge and
understanding of settlement patterns and economy during this 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, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 19-26
Quartermaine, J, Mickleden Beck Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 19-26
Quartermaine, J, Mickleden Beck Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Mickleden Beck Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 19-26
Sit No. 12, Quartermaine, J, Mickleden Beck Survey Catalogue, (1986)

Source: Historic England

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