Carved rocks, cairnfield and rubble banks on the terrace south of Scale Knoll Allotment, immediately east of Black Hill Gate, Barningham Moor


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. 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 - 1017439.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 12-Aug-2020 at 22:43:34.


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

County Durham (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NZ 04924 08304

Reasons for Designation

Prehistoric rock art is found on natural rock outcrops in many areas of upland Britain. It 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'. Single pecked lines extending from the cup through the `rings' may also exist, providing the design with a `tail'. Pecked lines or grooves can also exist in isolation from cup and ring decoration. 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.500 BC) 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 close to contemporary burial monuments and the symbols are also found on portable stones placed directly next to burials or incorporated in burial mounds. Around 800 examples of prehistoric rock-art have been recorded in England. This is unlikely to be a realistic reflection of the number carved in prehistory. Many will have been overgrown or destroyed in activities such as quarrying. All positively identified prehistoric rock art sites exhibiting a significant group of designs will normally 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 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 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 carved rocks, cairnfield, and rubble banks on the terrace to the south of Scale Knoll Allotment, form part of a wider group of carved rocks and other archaeological remains of prehistoric date on Barningham Moor. The carvings on the rocks survive well and display a wide range of motifs. They will contribute to our understanding of prehistoric rock art in England. Although some of the cairns have been disturbed by stone- robbing, they retain evidence of their form and location. They will also retain evidence of their relationship with the carved rocks and the rubble banks which are therefore also considered to be nationally important. The rubble banks will also preserve evidence of the later agricultural use of burial sites. The early iron-smelting site provides important evidence of early industry and will therefore contribute to studies of the early iron industry in England. The features on this terrace and the slope below it form an important part of the prehistoric landscape of Barningham Moor, which contains numerous other prehistoric remains such as carved rocks, burial and settlement sites and evidence for early agricultural practices. The site will therefore contribute to studies of such prehistoric landscapes and land use change over time.


The monument includes 19 carved rocks, a cairnfield, seven individual cairns, several stretches of rubble bank, and an iron smelting site. It is situated on Barningham Moor, on a hillside terrace, and on the slope below the terrace. It is south of the modern sheep-grazing enclosure known as Scale Knoll Allotment. The carved rocks vary in size and complexity of carving. They range from simple designs, consisting of a few cups, to more complex designs of cups and grooves covering the entire surface of the rock. Some of the carved rocks were later incorporated into short stretches of rubble bank, and may have been moved short distances from there original location. Further examples which are in situ however are still located nearby. Some of the carved rocks are almost hidden by turf; others are in erosion patches and more exposed. The cairnfield is at the eastern end of the monument, on the slope leading down from the terrace, between two small streams. The cairns in the cairnfield are in the range of 3m-5m diameter. Some stones have been removed from the cairns for later walling. The seven individual cairns are mostly around the edges of the terrace. They are up to 7m in diameter and vary considerably in their state of preservation, from cairns which have suffered from stone-robbing to others which appear undisturbed. The individual cairns are mostly larger, in more prominent positions, and better preserved than the cairns in the cairnfield. The rubble banks are distributed throughout the area. They are mostly 2m-3m wide and up to 0.4m high. They vary from short lengths, of the type often associated with cairnfields, to much longer stretches which may be field boundaries. In one area, the rubble banks form an incomplete enclosure, which incorporates three carved rocks and one cairn. Other carved rocks and cairns are nearby. The iron smelting site consists of an area of the terrace where slag is found in upcast from rabbit holes. This is likely to represent a later use of the site. Primitive iron smelting sites can date from the Iron Age to the end of the medieval period (c.500 BC-1500 AD). The evidence for early iron smelting often consists of a heap of iron slag. Medieval iron smelting sites are frequently found near streams and are known as bloomeries. In bloomeries, iron ore was fired to about 1200 degrees Centigrade, using charcoal as fuel. This caused a chemical reaction, producing a mass of iron called a bloom. This was then hammered to remove any residual slag. Prehistorice iron smelting sites are rare, therefore the process involved is less well known. Some prehistoric sites have been found associated with settlements. It is difficult to date early iron smelting sites by examination of their slag.

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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Rock Carvings of Northern Britain, (1986), 28
Beckensall, S, Rock Carvings of Northern Britain, (1986), 28
Beckensall, S, Rock Carvings of Northern Britain, (1986), 28
Beckensall, S, Rock Carvings of Northern Britain, (1986), 28
Beckensall, S, Rock Carvings of Northern Britain, (1986), 28
Beckensall, S, Rock Carvings of Northern Britain, (1986), 28-30
Dating iron-smelting sites, Cranstone, David , (1997)
Flint scatter, Laurie, T, (1993)


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

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].