Cairnfield including a funerary cairn, standing stone and three stone banks south of Eller How, Burnmoor


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date of most recent amendment:


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield including a funerary cairn, standing stone and three stone banks south of Eller How, Burnmoor
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Copeland (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NY 18340 02987

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.

Standing stones are prehistoric ritual or ceremonial monuments with dates ranging from the Late Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age for the few surviving examples. They comprise single or paired upright orthostatic slabs, ranging from under 1m to over 6m high where still erect. They are often conspicuously sited and close to other contemporary monument classes. They can be accompanied by various features: many occur in or on the edge of round barrows, and where excavated, associated subsurface features have included stone cists, stone settings, and various pits and hollows filled in with earth containing human bone, cremations, charcoal, flints, pots and pot sherds. Similar deposits have been found in excavated sockets for standing stones, which range considerably in depth. Several standing stones also bear cup and ring marks. Standing stones may have functioned as markers for routeways, territories, graves or meeting points, but their accompanying features show they also bore a ritual function and that they form one of several ritual monument classes of their period that often contain a deposit of cremation and domestic debris as an integral component. Estimates suggest that about 250 standing stones are known nationally. They are a long-lived class of monument, highly representative of their period, and all examples except those which are extensively damaged are considered to be of national importance. The cairnfield, funerary cairn, standing stone and stone banks south of Eller How survive reasonably well. The monument contains a number of differing features and illustrates well the diversity of monument classes which can be found within a cairnfield. It lies close to other prehistoric monuments on Burnmoor and thus indicates the importance of this area in prehistoric times. The funerary cairn lies adjacent to the main path linking two valleys - a feature paralleled elsewhere within the Lake District National Park - and will contain undisturbed archaeological deposits within the mound and upon the old landsurface beneath.


The monument includes a small cairnfield within which there are eleven cairns, one funerary cairn, one standing stone, and three stone banks. It is located on a local high point at the southern end of a small plateau south of Eller How, and lies within a large area of open moorland known as Burnmoor which contains an abundance of prehistoric remains. The site is crossed by the main footpath linking the valleys of Wasdale and Eskdale and is visible from considerable distances in all directions. The slightly elevated dome on which the monument lies enables the site to drain naturally rendering it the only dry spot in the area. Of the eleven cairns within the cairnfield, seven are sub-circular and range between 2.6m - 6.5m long by 2.3m - 5.4m wide and 0.15m - 0.35m high, three are circular and measure between 2.6m - 3.5m in diameter and 0.15m to 0.25m high, and one is ovoid measuring 3.3m long by 2.8m wide and 0.15m high. Two of the sub-circular cairns are kerbed with boulders. The funerary cairn lies a short distance to the west of the path and measures 13m long by 7.3m wide and up to 1.1m high. To the south of the funerary cairn there is the base of a rectangular standing stone, now broken, but measuring 0.6m high and embedded in stone packing. North of the funerary cairn there are three separate lengths of stone bank, two lying to the west of the path and one to the east. These measure 40m, 29m and 35m respectively and are 2m - 3m wide by 0.25m - 0.35m high. They are interpreted as part of the field system indicated by the cairnfield.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 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:
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Books and journals
Crawford, G, Archaeological Survey of Copeland, (1983), 38
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell Survey Catalogue, (1992), 21
Bowman, A., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Standing Stones, (1990)
Darvill,T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Bowl Barrows, (1988)
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.

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