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
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)
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
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
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing