Cairnfield on Crawley Edge, 500m north west of Hill Crest


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016816

Date first listed: 10-Dec-1976

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jul-1999


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield on Crawley Edge, 500m north west of Hill Crest
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1016816 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 19-Feb-2019 at 04:18:59.


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

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Stanhope

National Grid Reference: NZ 00071 39875

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 Crawley Edge is well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. Cairnfields are uncommon in County Durham and this one is a good example of its type. It will add greatly to our understanding of Bronze Age settlement and activity in the region.


The monument includes the remains of a cairnfield of Bronze Age date, situated on a south facing spur of land overlooking the Wear Valley. The cairnfield contains the remains of at least 41 cairns of earth and stone of varying shape and size. In the southern part of the cairnfield, the cairns lie in four distinct small groupings around an area in which there are no visible cairns and which is also relatively stone free. The cairns which lie in the northern part of the cairnfield display a more dispersed pattern. Most of the cairns are oval or oblong in shape and many have traces of a surrounding kerb. The cairns range in size from 1.8m to 8.5m in diameter, the majority being between 3m and 7m across, and vary in height from 0.2m to 1m. Two of the cairns situated in one of the groups in the southern part of the cairnfield were excavated in 1976 and 1977. The first and largest cairn contained a large Bronze Age pot, which had been placed within a pit dug into the subsoil beneath the cairn material. The pot was of a type known as a collared urn, and contained the remains of cremated bone. Three jet beads, several fragments of bone and charcoal were also recovered from the excavation. Dates were obtained by radio-carbon dating which indicate that the main period of activity occurred in the Early Bronze Age. On excavation, the structure of the second cairn was revealed, suggesting that this cairn, of a similar date to the first, was formed by field clearance.

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: 32722

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Young, R, Welfare, A T, 'Durham Archaeological Journal' in Fieldwork and Excavation at the Crawley Edge Cairnfield Stanhope, , Vol. 8, (1992), 27-49

End of official listing