Cairnfield and ring cairn 490m south of Offerton Hall


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016627

Date first listed: 10-May-1963

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Apr-1999


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield and ring cairn 490m south of Offerton Hall
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Derbyshire

District: Derbyshire Dales (District Authority)

Parish: Offerton

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 21246 80623

Reasons for Designation

The East Moors in Derbyshire includes all the gritstone moors east of the River Derwent. It covers an area of 105 sq km, of which around 63% is open moorland and 37% is enclosed. As a result of recent and on-going archaeological survey, the East Moors area is becoming one of the best recorded upland areas in England. On the enclosed land the archaeological remains are fragmentary, but survive sufficiently well to show that early human activity extended beyond the confines of the open moors. On the open moors there is significant and well-articulated evidence over extensive areas for human exploitation of the gritstone uplands from the Neolithic to the post-medieval periods. Bronze Age activity accounts for the most intensive use of the moorlands. Evidence for it includes some of the largest and best preserved field systems and cairnfields in northern England as well settlement sites, numerous burial monuments, stone circles and other ceremonial remains which, together, provide a detailed insight into life in the Bronze Age. Also of importance is the well preserved and often visible relationship between the remains of earlier and later periods since this provides an insight into successive changes in land use through time. A large number of the prehistoric sites on the moors, because of their rarity in a national context, excellent state of preservation and inter-connections, will be identified as nationally important.

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 land surface to improve its use for agriculture and on occasions their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots. Occasionally, some of the cairns were used for funerary purposes although without excavation it is difficult to determine which cairns contain burials. Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period (from c.3,400 BC) although the majority date from the Bronze Age (2,000-700 BC). Cairnfields can also retain information concerning the development of land use and agricultural practices as well as the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the prehistoric period. Ring cairns are prehistoric ritual monuments comprising a circular bank of stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the inside and sometimes on the outside as well with small upright or recumbent boulders. They are found mainly in upland areas of England and often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples. They are chiefly dated to the Early and Middle Bronze Age. The exact nature of the ritual 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 burial rituals. The importance of the cairnfield 490m south of Offerton Hall is enhanced by the inclusion of well preserved agricultural clearance evidence together with associated and contemporary ritual structures.


The monument includes a cairnfield and large ring cairn standing on a moorland shelf and is interpreted as the remains of Bronze Age cultivation and settlement with associated ceremonial remains. The cairnfield consists of at least 20 cairns of varying sizes, but typically in the range of 1.5m to 7m in diameter. One of the cairns is especially large, measuring 18.5m by 17m and is now saucer shaped, having been robbed of some of its stone. The size and position of the cairn, standing in a prominent location on a knoll, indicates that it held a funerary function. Towards the southern end of the cairnfield stands a large ring cairn consisting of a turf and stone sub-circular bank measuring 23m by 18.5m internally and 27m by 23m externally. It is thought that the structure may originally have been a stone circle with its internal standing stones subsequently removed to build nearby enclosure walls. There is an entrance on its south east side but this may not be original. The cairnfield is interpreted as evidence for the systematic clearance of the moorland for cultivation during the Bronze Age. It was originally part of a more extensive area of cultivation, separated from areas to the west by uncleared boulder strewn ground. As in several examples in the region, the cairnfield also incorporates at least one funerary cairn, while the associated ring cairn provides evidence for contemporary ceremonial activity.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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: 31249

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 69-70
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 69-70
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986), 66-68
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986), 66-68

End of official listing