Cairnfield, standing stone and cup marked rock on Debdon Moor 500m south-west of Primrose Cottage


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011634

Date first listed: 02-Dec-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 17-Sep-1993


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield, standing stone and cup marked rock on Debdon Moor 500m south-west of Primrose Cottage
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Dec-2018 at 18:52:33.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Cartington

National Grid Reference: NU 05716 02978


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

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 on Debdon Moor survives in an excellent state of preservation. Evidence relating to the nature of Bronze Age agriculture is preserved within and beneath the clearance cairns. The importance of this monument is increased because the cairnfield is embedded in a layer of peat which has preserved the old land surface in between the individual cairns; important archaeological information will be preserved in these areas, such as ard (Bronze Age plough) marks, and environmental evidence, including pollen, will indicate the type of crops grown in the area.


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


The monument includes an extensive cairnfield of Bronze Age date situated on and below the crest of a low ridge orientated north-east to south-west. The cairnfield contains at least thirty stone clearance cairns; their mounds range in size from 4m to 10m in diameter and up to a maximum height of 1.5m. The cairns represent a period of clearance in preparation for agricultural use. Two of the cairns are larger than the others and have central hollows, the result of partial excavation in the 19th century. One of these cairns has traces of a retaining circle visible on its south-eastern periphery and is likely to have been funerary in origin. A standing stone measuring 1.1m by 0.7m in section and surviving to a height of 1m is situated to the north of the low ridge among the clearance cairns. Situated upon the ridge, also within the area of the cairnfield, there is a large triangular shaped boulder; upon its flat surface there are seven cup marks and a circular basin 10cm deep.

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: 20901

Legacy System: RSM


No. 2285,
No. 816,
No. 824,

End of official listing