Prehistoric enclosure, hut circle and adjacent cairnfield east of Whillan Beck, Burnmoor


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric enclosure, hut circle and adjacent cairnfield east of Whillan Beck, Burnmoor
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Nov-2019 at 11:48:15.


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

Copeland (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NY 18839 03318

Reasons for Designation

Within the upland landscape of Cumbria there are many discrete plots of land enclosed by stone walls or banks of stone and earth, most of which date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC), though 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 stock and hut circle dwellings for farmers and herdsmen. The size and form of enclosures may therefore vary depending upon their particular function. Their variation in form, longevity and relationship to other monument classes provide important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Cairnfields are concentrations of cairns sited in close proximity to one another. They often consist largely of clearance cairns, built with stone from the surrounding landsurface to improve its use for agriculture, and on occasion their distribution 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.3400BC), 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 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 prehistoric enclosure and cairnfield east of Whillan Beck survives reasonably well. It contains a developed type of cairnfield; that is one where the land has been subjected to initial land clearance then utilised further - in this case by the construction of an enclosure and a hut circle. It contrasts markedly with the primary type of cairnfield found elsewhere on Burnmoor and illustrates well differing prehistoric land management strategies. The monument lies close to other prehistoric monuments on Burnmoor and this indicates the importance of this area in prehistoric times.


The monument includes a prehistoric enclosure which contains a hut circle and a cairnfield lying predominantly to the east and west of the enclosure. It is located on sloping fellside at the eastern end of a large area of open moorland known as Burnmoor which contains an abundance of prehistoric remains. The enclosure is sub-oval in shape and is identified as a stock pen. It is entered from the south west and measures approximately 17m by 8m internally with a boundary wall of drystone construction three courses high and up to 2.5m wide. The south eastern arm of the boundary wall projects southwards beyond the entrance in two separate lengths for a further 26m. The north west arm of the boundary wall widens out at the entrance to accommodate a small hut circle about 4m in diameter which is also entered from the south west. A short distance to the west of the enclosure, and forming part of the cairnfield, are two sub-circular cairns. They are both 0.2m high and measure 6.5m by 4.1m and 4.8m by 3.6m. Further to the west is a group of eight cairns most of which are round in shape and measure between 2.9m-5m in diameter, while to the east of the enclosure there is a more dispersed group of 13 cairns, again round in shape, ranging from 2m-4m in diameter. Among this eastern group there is a low drystone wall measuring 14.6m long by 2m wide and up to 0.5m high which is aligned WSW-ENE; this is interpreted as a field wall associated with the cairnfield.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 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:


Books and journals
Leech, R H, The Lake District National Park Survey - Burnmoor, (1992), 6
Leech, R H, The Lake District National Park Survey - Burnmoor, (1992), 6
Leech, R H, The Lake District National Park Survey - Burnmoor, (1992), 5-7
Raymond,F., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Cairnfields, (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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