Two ring cairns at Ciceley Low, 500m ESE of Parson House Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Two ring cairns at Ciceley Low, 500m ESE of Parson House Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Sheffield (Metropolitan Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SK 27520 80782

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.

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of stones surrounding a hollow central area. They are found mainly in upland areas of Britain and are interpreted as Early or Middle Bronze Age in date. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial rituals. As a relatively rare class of monument, exhibiting considerable variation in form, all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological deposits are considered worthy of preservation. The pairing of ring cairns as at Cicely Low is unusual. Both cairns survive well and will retain significant remains, including evidence of the burials originally placed within them.


The monument includes two adjacent prehistoric ring cairns and a probable barrow to the immediate SSW. It is located on gently-shelving land 500m ESE of Parson House Farm. A drystone wall bisects part of one of the ring cairns. The monuments are likely to date from the Bronze Age and are similar to features elsewhere on the gritstone moors of the Peak District, although the pairing of the ring cairns in this manner is most unusual. The northern ring cairn is the larger and the best preserved of the two. It has an external diameter of 30m and an internal diameter of 25m. The bank of this cairn is between 2m and 2.5m wide and stands up to 0.75m high. Stones protrude from the bank in places but there is no trace of a stone kerb. The interior of this ring cairn is level with the surroundings with three shallow pits, each about 1m in diameter, which appear to be recent in origin. There is an entranceway through the bank on the west side, but this may not be original. The surrounding land appears to have been cleared of stones but there are now no clearance features visible in the vicinity of the monument, even though such features have been recorded elsewhere in this area. The second ring cairn lies immediately to the south west of the other, with its embankment almost touching the first, but neither appears to overlie the other. Externally the ring cairn has a diameter of 19.5m and internally a diameter of 15m. The bank is less well preserved than that of the other ring cairn, being fragmentary in places. Where the bank survives in good condition it is 2m wide and stands 0.5m high. This ring cairn has been damaged by water erosion and is truncated by a drystone wall. The interior of the ring cairn is, again, level with the surrounding land and is scarred by erosion channels and there is a slight hollow way towards its eastern side. There is also a square, shallow pit of unknown function about 1m wide which appears to be a fairly recent feature. There is an entranceway through the bank on the SSW side of the cairn which could be original. Immediately to the SSW of the second ring cairn is a small, slightly ovoid, mound measuring 5.5m by 4m. It has been partly excavated on its eastern side and has a slightly depressed centre. No stones are visible in the mound but they may be covered by the accumulation of turf. In view of the proximity of the mound to the ring cairns, it may be a small prehistoric funerary cairn. Alternatively, it could be a clearance feature. The ring cairns are of Bronze Age date and are interpreted as foci to the local farming communities for ritual, burial and possibly for seasonal ceremonies and celebrations. A small number of similar monuments are recorded elsewhere on the gritstone moors of the Peak District and it is not unusual to find more than one ring cairn in the same area. However, two similar features in such close proximity is unique in the local area. The drystone walls, gates and fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

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
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 50-52


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

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