Prehistoric carved rocks and associated remains including cairns and a field system 800m south of Haythwaite, Barningham Moor


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017442

Date first listed: 24-Nov-1977

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Oct-1997


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric carved rocks and associated remains including cairns and a field system 800m south of Haythwaite, Barningham Moor
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Barningham

National Grid Reference: NZ 05770 08343


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

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.

Funerary cairns date to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined compartments called cists. Their considerable variation in form, and longevity as a monument type, provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period, and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. A burnt mound is an accumulation of burnt (fire-crazed) stones, ash and charcoal, usually sited next to a river or lake. On excavation, some form of trough or basin capable of holding water is normally found in close association with the mound. The size of the mound can vary considerably; small examples may be under 0.5m high and less than 10m in diameter, larger examples may exceed 3m in height and be 35m in diameter. The shape of the mound ranges from circular to crescentic. The associated trough or basin may be found within the body of the mound or, more usually, immediatly adjacent to it. At sites which are crescentic in shape the trough is normally found within the `arms' of the crescent and the mound has the appearance of having developed around it. The main phase of use of burnt mounds spans the Early, Middle and Late Bronze Age, a period of around 1000 years. The function of the mounds has been a matter of some debate, but it appears that cooking, using heated stones to boil water in a trough or tank, is the most likely use. Some excavated sites have revealed several phases of construction, indicating that individual sites were used more than once. Burnt mounds are found widely scattered throughout the British Isles, with around 100 examples identified in England. As a rare monument type which provides an insight into life in the Bronze Age, all well preserved examples will normally be identified as nationally important. In the uplands of northern England a wide variety of prehistoric enclosures may be found. These range from relatively large, regular enclosures with earth and stone banks, to smaller, irregular areas enclosed by boulder walls. Most are dated to the Bronze Age, Iron Age or early Romano-British period (2000 BC-200 AD). The larger regular enclosures tend to be dated towards the later part of this period, the smaller irregular enclosures towards the beginning. Their variation in form, longevity and relationship to other monument classses provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and land use among prehistoric communities. Prehistoric field systems in the North of England take a variety of forms. Regular and irregular types of prehistoric field system are widespread throughout the Pennine Range. Large scale field systems with long, parallel, rubble banks are particularly typical of the North Pennines. The dating of these is often uncertain, but they are considered to date from the Bronze Age or Iron Age (c.2500-50 BC). Closer dating may be provided by their relationships to other classes of monument which were in use for shorter, known, periods of time. The prehistoric sites 800m south of Haythwaite survive well and will retain significant information on prehistoric land use on the moor. They are also part of a wider prehistoric landscape in the area which includes further carved rocks and settlement evidence.


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


The monument includes five carved rocks, two burnt mounds, two enclosures, a field system and two cairns. It is situated on Barningham Moor, in the area known as Washbeck Green. The five carved rocks represent some of the earliest remains on the site. They vary in size and complexity of carving and are scattered throughout the area. At least one rock may have been reused as a cist cover in a burial cairn and has at least 40 cups. Another has 12 cups, two of which have three rings and interlinking grooves. This example is located inside one of the enclosures. A further example, often obscured by heather, has five cups, one of which has three concentric rings around it. The most complex design is to be found on a rock near grouse butt number six. Here, the rock displays at least 16 cups, six of which have various concentric rings and connecting grooves. The most simply designed rock found is an isolated groove in the centre of a rock. The burnt mounds are both covered by heather, and are close to each other, 162m west of Wash Beck. One is subcircular, 9m in diameter and 0.2m high, and the other is 14m in diameter and 1m high, slightly irregular, with a central depression. The two enclosures are east of Wash Beck. One is 95m by 50m, with rubble banks 2m-3m wide and up to 0.4m high, and the other is about 18m by 12m, with rubble banks approximately 2m wide and 0.3m high forming a roughly circular shape. They are interpreted as prehistoric agricultural enclosures possibly for controlling stock and for sub-dividing the land. The field system is represented by of long rubble banks up to 3m wide and 0.4m high. The banks lie on a number of different alignments, and may be of more than one phase. They are directly associated with the small enclosure, and may be later than the large enclosure. The longest of the banks is approximately 333m long. The cairns are both covered in heather, and are not conspicuous. They are each 4m in diameter, one is 0.2m high and the other is 0.5m high. The higher cairn has a carved rock visible embedded in its west side. Both cairns have suffered from some stone-robbing in the past.

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: 30480

Legacy System: RSM


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
Laurie, T, 'Archaeological Newsbulletin Series 2' in Archaeological Newsbulletin CBA Regional Group Three, , Vol. 3, (1977), 11
Beckensall, (1997)
Beckensall, (1997)
Beckensall, (1997)
Burnt mounds on Barningham Moor, Laurie, T, (1997)
Cairn on Barningham Moor, Brown, P, (1997)
Enclosures on Barningham Moor, Laurie, T, (1997)
Field systems on Barningham Moor, Laurie, T, (1997)
Rock number 10 on Barningham Moor, Laurie, T, (1993)
Rock number 7 on Barningham Moor, Laurie, T, (1993)
Rock number 8 on Barningham Moor, Laurie, T, (1993)
Rock number 9 on Barningham Moor, Laurie, T, (1993)

End of official listing