Toad's Mouth prehistoric field system


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017507

Date first listed: 01-Nov-1954

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Toad's Mouth prehistoric field system
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Sheffield (Metropolitan Authority)

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 25933 80820


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

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.

This field system survives well and will contribute to the understanding of the prehistoric agricultural use of this area of the Peak District.


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


The monument includes a series of Bronze Age cairns with associated lynchets and clearance banks. The remains are located in open moorland overlooking the Burbage Valley, a short distance to the north of a natural rock outcrop known as the Toad's Mouth. The features show that the area was one of prehistoric settlement comprising an area cleared of stones and used for agriculture. They occupy gently shelving and relatively well-drained land facing to the south west. The scheduling includes at least 70 cairns of medium and large stones distributed throughout the entire area of protection. Many of the cairns appear to have been placed over large earthfast boulders. Some appear to have been disturbed in recent times, others appear intact. Recent heather burning has exposed many of the cairns and the surrounding area showing that the land has been cleared of surface stones. At least one of the cairns appears to have been reused as a shooting butt. The cairns vary in size, ranging from approximately 2m to 9m in diameter. Some of them, especially the larger ones are ovoid in plan. During the 19th century, some of the cairns were opened but only fragments of calcified bones were found within them. It is thought that the primary function of the cairns was for agricultural clearance with any burial deposits being secondary. In the north western part of the cairnfield, there are several low lynchets (small scarps) between some of the smaller cairns. The lynchets are now fragmentary and stand only a few centimetres high. To the south of the lynchets, in the centre-west of the cairnfield, are the fragmentary remains of linear banks comprised of stone clearance debris. The banks are now turf covered although some stone debris can be seen. Although they are now fragmentary, the presence of the lynchets and clearance banks illustrate that the area was used for agricultural purposes and that at least some of the cleared area was arranged as a field system. The banks would have been created as the result of loose stone debris being moved to the sides of the fields which were by then probably enclosed by hedges or fencing. The area is crossed by a more recent trackway which is now grass covered forming a `green lane'. It is no longer used except as a path. It runs from the south of the area of protection, northwards, and leaves the area to the west of the rock outcrop at the northern end of the cairnfield. In addition, the area is also crossed by several braids of minor hollow ways which were probably created for moorland access from settlement lower down the Burbage Valley and from industrial period quarrying activities. Some of the hollow ways may date from the medieval period. Excluded from the scheduling are all fenceposts and wire fencing, although the ground beneath is included.

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: 29797

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bateman, T, Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire, (1849)
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, , Vol. 106, (1986), 32
Beswick, P, Merrills, D, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Soc.' in L H Butcher's Survey of Early Settlement ..., , Vol. 12, (1983)

End of official listing