Bronze Age cairnfield and cup and ring marked stone 550m north west of Middleton Dean


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015640

Date first listed: 15-Apr-1997


Ordnance survey map of Bronze Age cairnfield and cup and ring marked stone 550m north west of Middleton Dean
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Ilderton


National Grid Reference: NT 99042 22469


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.

Commonly found in the vicinity of cairnfields are examples of prehistoric rock art. It is found on natural rock outcrops in many areas of upland Britain and 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 and ring' marking where expanses of small cup-like hollows are pecked into the surface of the rock. These cups may be surrounded by one or more `rings'. 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.500BC) 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. Frequently they are found on portable stones placed directly next to burials or incorporated into burial mounds. Around 800 examples of prehistoric rock-art have been recorded in England. This is unlikely to be a realistic reflection of the nu arved in prehistory. Many will have been overgrown or destroyed in activities such as quarrying. The Bronze Age cairnfield and cup and ring marked stone north west of Middleton Dean are well preserved and will retain significant archaeological deposits. The monument contains evidence relating to agricultural and funerary practices within, beneath and between the cairns as well as evidence of ritual practices through the cup and ring marked stone.


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


The monument includes a cairnfield of Bronze Age date situated on gently undulating moorland. The cairnfield, c.250m long, contains at least 15 stone clearance cairns; the mounds vary in size from 2m to 12m in diameter and up to a maximum height of 1.5m. At least three cairns have a central depression, probably the result of unrecorded part excavation and are thought likely to be funerary in origin. Amongst the clearance cairns is an isolated boulder bearing a single cup and ring mark, now much weathered. The post and wire fence which crosses the cairnfield is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath is included.

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: 29310

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing