Cairnfield at Codhill Slack, 670m north east of Percy Cross, including a ring cairn, round barrow and standing stone


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016575

Date first listed: 26-Jul-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield at Codhill Slack, 670m north east of Percy Cross, including a ring cairn, round barrow and standing stone
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Redcar and Cleveland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Guisborough


National Grid Reference: NZ 61139 12382


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.

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of stones surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of England and are interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial rituals. Ring cairns occasionally lie within round barrow cemeteries and in northern England they are often associated with cairnfields. Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a focus for burials in later periods. In northern England they are sometimes found as components of cairnfields. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. 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 excavated 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 edges of round barrows and, where excavated, associated sub-surface features have included stone cists, stone settings, and various pits and hollows filled in with earth containing human bone, cremations, charcoal, flints and pottery. Similar deposits have been found in excavated sockets for standing stones, which range considerably in depth. Standing stones may have functioned as markers for routeways, territories, graves or meeting points, but their accompanying features show that they also had a ritual function and that they form one of several ritual monument classes of their period which often contain deposits of cremation and domestic debris as an integral part. No national survey of standing stones has been undertaken, and estimates range from 50 to 250 extant examples, widely distributed throughout England but with concentrations in Cornwall, the North York Moors, Cumbria, Derbyshire and the Cotswolds. Standing stones are important as nationally rare monuments, with a high longevity and demonstrating the diversity of ritual practices in the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age. The cairnfield at Codhill Slack is in a very good state of preservation. Significant information about its form and development will survive. Evidence for the nature of Bronze Age agriculture and earlier land use will be preserved between and beneath the cairns. The relationships with the ring cairn, standing stone, round barrow and burial cairns will provide evidence for the diversity and development of social and ritual practice. The cairnfield is situated within an area which includes burial monuments and hut circle settlements as well as other field systems and cairnfields. Associated groups of monuments such as these offer important scope for the study of the distribution of prehistoric activity across the landscape.


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


The monument includes a cairnfield, a ring cairn, a round barrow and a standing stone situated on a south west facing slope above Codhill Slack. The cairnfield consists of up to 70 prominent and well defined cairns distributed largely across two terraces orientated north west to south east along the hillslope. A few cairns are situated on a third lower terrace where there are also stretches of tumbled walling visible. Further occasional traces of walling are interspersed among the cairns and at the northern limit of the cairnfield. Most of the cairns are sub-circular mounds constructed from small and medium sized stones, although there are one or two which are more elongated in shape. Some are built around large erratic boulders. They vary in size from 3m to 6m in diameter and stand between 0.3m to 0.7m high. The majority are field clearance cairns which are the result of clearing the ground to improve it for agriculture. The stretches of walling are up to 22m long and survive as banks of stone and earth which are 0.7m-2m wide and up to 0.4m high. These are interpreted as part of the field system indicated by the clearance cairns. Some of the larger cairns, however, were burial mounds. At the southern end of the cairnfield and situated on the second terrace is a ring cairn. This has a penannular stone ring bank up to 12m in diameter and 1.7 to 1.9m wide, with a break in the south east side. The bank is constructed of medium and large stones and stands up to 0.5m high. It encloses a central area 7.5m in diameter, in the centre of which stands a small cairn 4m in diameter and up to 0.4m high. The ring cairn was partly excavated in 1967 and deposits of charcoal and burnt earth were exposed in the central area, which is interpreted as a cremation site. The standing stone is situated on the edge of the upper terrace above the ring cairn, towards the southern end of the cairnfield. It measures 0.6m by 0.3m in section and stands up to 0.8m high. It is incorporated into the western edge of a cairn. The round barrow is situated at the north west of the cairnfield on the lowest terrace. It has an earthen mound 6m in diameter which stands up to 0.3m high. It was originally surrounded by a ditch up to 2m wide which has become filled in over the years and is no longer visible as an earthwork. In the centre there is a hollow caused by partial excavations in the past. The monument lies in an area rich in prehistoric monuments, including round barrows, field systems and further cairnfields.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32022

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Pearson, W, 'Moorland Monuments' in Two early Bronze Age sites in Sleddale, , Vol. 101, (1995), 155-170
Spratt, D A , 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology in North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, (1993)
Title: Ordnance Survey 25" Source Date: 1928 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing