Cairnfield south of Straighthead Gill, Burnmoor


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


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield south of Straighthead Gill, Burnmoor
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Copeland (District Authority)
Copeland (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NY 18019 05663

Reasons for Designation

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 landsurface 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 cairnfield south of Straighthead Gill survives well. It is a primary type of cairnfield, that is one demonstrating the initial phase of prehistoric land clearance only. The cairnfield appears not to have been modified by later use and hence survives in its original form. It therefore represents the earliest stage of human management of the landscape. It contrasts markedly with the developed types of cairnfield found elsewhere on Burnmoor and illustrates the diversity within the cairnfield class of monument and the differing prehistoric land management strategies. The cairnfield lies close to other prehistoric monuments on Burnmoor and thus indicates the importance of this area in prehistoric times and the diversity of monument classes to be found here.


The monument includes a cairnfield located on an east facing hillslope south of Straighthead Gill. It lies at the northern end of a large area of open moorland known as Burnmoor which contains an abundance of prehistoric remains. The cairnfield includes 40 cairns, one irregular spread of stones and one short length of stone wall. The majority of the cairns are circular and range between 1.5m - 5.3m in diameter and 0.05m - 0.4m high. Of the remaining cairns four are sub-circular and measure between 4.5m - 10m long by 3.1m - 5.6m wide, one is ovoid and measures 4.9m long by 2.9m wide, and one is elongated and measures 8.2m long by 3.3m wide. The short length of wall lies at the extreme western end of the cairnfield and measures 13.5m long by 1m wide and 0.1m high. The irregular spread of stones measures approximately 10m long by 6m wide and has a short 'tail' at its western end. The wall and stone spread are interpreted as further elements of the field system represented by 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), 1-4
Raymond,F., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Cairnfields, (1987)
To Robinson,K.D. MPPFW, Quartermaine, J, (1993)


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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