Polygonal prehistoric enclosure and associated field system at Petterilbank Cottages


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Eden (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 46835 42729

Reasons for Designation

Prehistoric enclosures are plots of land usually enclosed by stone walls or banks of stone and earth in upland areas, and banks of earth with an external ditch in lowland areas. Many date to the Bronze Age (c.2000 - 500 BC) although earlier and later examples also exist. They were constructed as stock pens or as protected areas for crop growing and were sometimes subdivided to accommodate animal shelters and hut circle settlements. The size and form of prehistoric enclosures may therefore vary very considerably, depending on their particular function. Their variation in form, longevity, and their relationship to other monument classes provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices among prehistoric communities. Field systems provide important evidence of a carefully planned reorganisation of landscape and definition of landholdings. Their articulation with other contemporary archaeological features, such as land boundaries and enclosures, provides an insight into agricultural practices and activity during the Bronze Age. The prehistoric enclosure and associated field system at Petterilbank Cottages remains clearly visible on aerial photographs, despite the fact that no upstanding earthworks survive. Further evidence of the original form of the enclosure and the activities taking place within it will be well preserved. The monument lies within the Eden valley and its tributary valleys, an area whose rich agricultural soils supported a considerable prehistoric and Romano-British population from Neolithic times onwards. It will contribute to any further study of the early settlement patterns of the area.


The monument is a polygonal prehistoric enclosure and associated field system located on the edge of high ground overlooking the River Petteril to the west. Much of the site is visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs which highlight features such as infilled ditches and a trackway. The aerial photographs show four sides of a polygonal enclosure defended by two parallel infilled ditches sharply angled at the corners. The exact nature of the western side of the enclosure cannot be determined from aerial photographs because of tree cover but it must have closely followed the cliff line above the river. The enclosure measures approximately 140m by 110m at its widest parts and has an entrance on its north eastern side from which a trackway can be seen on aerial photographs running from the entrance initially in a north easterly direction before turning to run north. To the north east and south east of the enclosure, aerial photographs have identified the infilled ditches of two large associated fields. The trackway from the enclosure runs through the north eastern field which is irregularly-shaped. It has a separate entrance close to the northern corner of the enclosure. The sub-rectangular south eastern field measures approximately 210m by 140m at its widest parts. The aerial photographs have also identified crop marks within this field but these are too faint to interpret accurately. An additional infilled ditch apparently defending the northern side of the enclosure and the nearby field entrance has also been located on the aerial photographs. A quernstone was reportedly ploughed up at this site in recent years. Petterilbank Cottages, all outbuildings, walls, fences, field boundaries, gateposts, telegraph poles, and the surfaces of access drives and farm tracks, are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


AP No. 2526,11, Cumbria County Council, Polygonal enclosure at Petterilbank Cottages, (1984)
AP No. 2526,5, Cumbria County Council, Polygonal enclosure at Petterilbank Cottages, (1984)
AP No. DM 064, Cambridge University Collection,
AP No. DM 064, Cambridge University Collection, Polygonal enclosure at Petterilbank Cottages,
AP No. XPI 2526,11, Cumbria County Council, Polygonal enclosure at Petterilbank Cottages, (1984)
AP No. XPI 2526,5, Cumbria County Council, Polygonal enclosure at Petterilbank Cottages, (1984)
SMR No. 712, Cumbria SMR, Polygonal enclosure at Petterilbank Cottages, (1987)


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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