Cairnfield, carved rocks and associated curved bank at north west end of Green Crag Slack, east of Gill Head Reservoir


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013872

Date first listed: 25-May-1995


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield, carved rocks and associated curved bank at north west end of Green Crag Slack, east of Gill Head Reservoir
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Bradford (Metropolitan Authority)

Parish: Ilkley

National Grid Reference: SE 13034 46303


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

Reasons for Designation

Rombalds Moor is an eastern outlier of the main Pennine range lying between the valleys of the Wharfe and the Aire. The bulk of this area of 90 sq km of rough moorland lies over 200m above sea level. The moor is particularly rich in remains of prehistoric activity. The most numerous relics are the rock carvings which can be found on many of the boulders and outcrops scattered across the moor. Burial monuments, stone circles and a range of enclosed settlements are also known. 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 occasionally 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 during 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 association of cairnfields provide important information on the development and associations of land use and agricultural practices. Cairnfields also retain information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the prehistoric period.

Within the landscape of Rombalds Moor are many discrete plots of land enclosed by stone walls or banks of stone and earth, most of which date from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC), although earlier and later examples may also exist. They are believed to have been constructed as protected areas for settlement, stock penning, or crop growing, and may also have been used for ritual purposes. They may be subdivided into a series of smaller enclosures; those used for settlement retain evidence of the round huts originally located within them. The size and form of the enclosures vary considerably, depending on their particular function. Their variation in form, longevity and relation to other monument classes provide important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices among prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period, and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are worthy of protection. Prehistoric rock carving is found on natural boulders and rock outcrops in many areas of upland Britain. It is especially common in the north of England in Northumberland, Durham, and North and West Yorkshire. The most common form of decoration is the `cup' marking, where small cup-like hollows are worked into the surface of the rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more `rings'. Single pecked lines extending from the cup through the rings may also exist, providing the design with a `tail'. Other shapes and patterns also occur but are less frequent. Carvings may occur singly, in small groups, or may cover extensive areas of rock surface. They date to the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods (2800-c.500 BC) and provide one of our most important insights into prehistoric `art'. The exact meaning of the designs remains unknown, but they may be interpreted as sacred or religious symbols. All positively identified prehistoric rock carving sites will normally be identified as nationally important. This monument combines a small cairnfield with a long curving rubble bank, best interpreted as a prehistoric enclosure, and a number of carved rocks. All these features survive well. Together they form an important part of the prehistoric landscape on this part of Rombalds Moor.


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


The monument includes a small cairnfield of at least five cairns, three carved rocks and a long, curved, rubble bank at the north west edge of Green Crag Slack, due north of Green Crag Enclosure. The rubble bank is c.2m wide and up to 0.6m high, and contains orthostats. One of the cairns is incorporated into the rubble bank. The bank is c.140m long and is discontinuous where crossed by paths. At the eastern end it runs to the edge of a disused stone quarry. The rubble bank in conjunction with the edge of the scarp may once have formed an enclosure, although this is not certain. The cairns and carved rocks are contained within an area bounded by the rubble bank to the south, and the top of a steep slope to the north. The cairns are small, in the range 3m-5m diameter. They appear to be undisturbed. The carved rocks include a large, prominent rock known as Haystack Rock with complex carvings in the cup and ring tradition. The remaining rocks bear simple designs consisting of cups.

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: 25342

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hedges, J D (ed), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, (1986), 94
Hedges, J D (ed), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, (1986), 94
Hedges, J D (ed), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, (1986), 47

End of official listing