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Field system and cairnfield on Lockton High Moor, 1km NNE of Needle Point

A Scheduled Monument in Lockton, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.355 / 54°21'17"N

Longitude: -0.7013 / 0°42'4"W

OS Eastings: 484501.609189

OS Northings: 496269.498683

OS Grid: SE845962

Mapcode National: GBR RLJ2.ZM

Mapcode Global: WHGBH.6S9S

Entry Name: Field system and cairnfield on Lockton High Moor, 1km NNE of Needle Point

Scheduled Date: 15 April 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021234

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35455

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Lockton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Lockton St Giles

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes a cairnfield and a regular aggregate field system
which are situated on level ground at the top edge of North Dale. They lie
on sandstone moorland on the southern fringe of the North York Moors, at
the foot of the northern escarpment of the Tabular Hills.

The cairnfield consists of at least 30 well-defined cairns, most of which
are sub-circular mounds constructed from small and medium sized stones.
They vary in size from 3m to 5m in diameter, with most at the smaller end
of the range, and stand between 0.3m and 0.6m high. The majority are field
clearance cairns which are the result of clearing the ground to prepare
for agriculture, but some of the larger cairns are thought to have been
used as burial mounds. Superimposed upon the cairnfield and extending to
the south is a regular aggregate field system. The field system survives
as a series of more than 13 roughly parallel banks which extend from the
top edge of the steep slope into North Dale and run approximately
perpendicular to it; at the north western end of the field system the
banks run approximately north-south, while at the south eastern end of the
field system the banks run more north east-south west. Between the
parallel banks there are a number of intermediate banks and fragmentary
wall lines which divide the intervening areas into smaller plots measuring
40m-60m across. The banks are constructed from earth and stone rubble and
measure up to 3m in width and 0.5m in height and the walling is visible as
lines of tumbled stone in the ground surface. Some of the banks are
irregular and discontinuous and are likely to be the result of field
clearance rather than deliberate laying-out of fields. Towards the
southern end of the field system the banks are more curvilinear. In this
area also, there are a number of shallow ditches measuring up to 1m in
width and 0.2m in depth. The difference in character of the boundaries
between the north and south of the field system is interpreted as an
indication that the field system developed over time as a product of
several phases of use. Aerial photographs show that the maximum extent of
the field system is at least 330m from the top edge of the steep slope
into North Dale and that it extends for approximately 1km along the edge
of the slope.

Over the years both the cairnfield and the field system have become
embedded in blanket peat. This has partly masked some of the earthworks,
making them less pronounced, and has buried other features which will
survive between the visible remains. The peat cover will also have
enhanced the survival of the prehistoric features, although it detracts
from their visibility.

The monument is surrounded by many more remains from the prehistoric
period, which include a number of similar field systems and cairnfields as
well as ritual and funerary monuments.

The walls of the ruined sheep bield at NGR SE84619621 are excluded from
the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the
end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and
comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction,
with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one
another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can
be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The
field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls or reaves,
orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and
lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to
most systems include entrances and trackways, and the settlements or
farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been
identified in some cases. These are usually situated close to or within the
field system.
The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for
land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought
to have been used mainly for crop production, evidenced by the common
occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation
may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. Regular aggregate
field systems occur widely and have been recorded in south western and south
eastern England, East Anglia, Cheshire, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, North and
South Yorkshire and Durham. They represent a coherent economic unit often
utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information
about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and
broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several
centuries. Those which survive well and/or which can be positively linked to
associated settlements are considered to merit protection.

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 land surface 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.

The field system and cairnfield on Lockton High Moor, 1km NNE of Needle
Point, are in a very good state of preservation. Significant information
about their date and form will survive. Valuable evidence for the nature
of Bronze and Iron Age agriculture, the contemporary environment and
earlier land use will be preserved between and beneath the cairns and
field banks, and within the lowest ditch fills. The relationships between
components of different date will provide evidence for the sequence of
development and continuity of land use during the prehistoric period.

The monument is situated close to a number of other field systems and
cairnfields, including the much more extensive concentration of sites on
Levisham Moor 3.8km to the south west. Associations such as this
contribute to our understanding of prehistoric landscape exploitation and
the distribution of prehistoric activity across the landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Atkins, C, An Archaeological Survey of the Levisham Estate, (1991)
Lee, G, (2003)
preliminary survey plot, Dennison, E, (2003)

Source: Historic England

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