Field system including over 300 clearance cairns and two hut circles at Iron Howe


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008861

Date first listed: 15-Jul-1966

Date of most recent amendment: 10-May-1994


Ordnance survey map of Field system including over 300 clearance cairns and two hut circles at Iron Howe
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Hawnby


National Grid Reference: SE 52767 94859


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Irregular aggregate field systems are one of several methods of field layout known to have been employed in England from the Bronze Age to the Roman period (c.2000 BC-AD 400). They comprise a collection of field plots, generally lacking conformity of orientation and arrangement, containing fields with sinuous outlines and varying shapes and sizes. Field edges are variously defined by lines of clearance cairns, stone walls, banks of earth and rubble, ditches, fences and lynchets. Groups of clearance cairns are often associated with the field systems. Some buildings (usually stone hut circles) lie within irregular aggregate field systems and are sometimes physically attached to a boundary. The field systems are often located around or near ceremonial and funerary monuments. This type of field system developed over a period of time through the aggregation of field plots according to the needs of the prevailing agricultural regimes and the abilities of the communities that used them. They are an important element of the existing landscape and are representative of farming practice over a long period. A substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. This monument is a well preserved example of a field system which includes an extensive cairnfield and at least two hut circles. The occurrence of hut circles within a field system is rare in this area. Significant information about the original form and evidence of earlier land use beneath the monument will be preserved. This monument is associated with a number of similar field systems and round barrows in this part of the Hambleton Hills. There are similar groups of monuments in the eastern and central areas of the North York Moors providing an important insight into land use, agricultural development, social structure and the exploitation of resources during the prehistoric period.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes an irregular field system comprising a number of cultivation plots defined by stony banks, upwards of 300 clearance cairns and two hut circles on the south west facing spur at the southern edge of Snilesworth Moor. The system extends over an area of some 900m north-south by 300m east-west lying between the 280m and 310m contours. At the northern end of the monument the cultivation plots are delineated by collapsed stone walling linking clearance heaps. To the south west the system becomes less coherent and is reduced to a string of clearance cairns with occasional lengths of walling. There is more than 1500m of walling throughout the site. The clearance cairns are distributed throughout the monument. They are mostly round in shape, ranging in size from 1.5m to 8m in diameter and standing between 0.2m and 0.7m high. There are a number of oval and elongated cairns interspersed throughout the site. At the north east of the monument, within the field system and cairnfield, lie two hut circles. These are visible as two rings of tumbled stone walling with diameters of 5m and 12m respectively. The walling stands to a height of 0.5m. These hut circles indicate some form of settlement associated with the field system. There are other examples of field systems, clearance cairns and hut circles on the Hambleton Hills. They provide evidence of territorial organisation marking the division and exploitation of land for agricultural and social purposes.

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: 25529

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Rutter, J G, 'History of Helmsly' in Survey Iron Howe, (1963)
Rutter, J G, 'History of Helmsly' in Survey Iron Howe, (1963)
Spratt, D A , 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology in North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, , Vol. BAR 104, (1993), 110

End of official listing