Cowell Flat prehistoric field system, 350m south east of Mortimer House


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


Ordnance survey map of Cowell Flat prehistoric field system, 350m south east of Mortimer House
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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 24994 94184

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.

Cowell Flat prehistoric field system survives well with well-defined field banks and cairns; other features will survive below ground. The two contrasting types of construction indicate that the monument holds important information about the longevity of such sites and their possible re-occupation over several phases of settlement.


The monument includes linear clearance banks and cairns which together form a system of relict fields and enclosures. The main field system measures approximately 300m by 250m along a north west to south east axis. Beyond the main field system are a few isolated cairns, lynchets and small sections of turf walls. The irregular field banks of stone debris and turf show that the land was enclosed into at least five separate field enclosures. The field banks survive well, some retaining a height of approximately 1m. Those at the extreme southern end of the field system appear to be largely covered with an accumulation of peat and turf and some buried field banks may survive further to the south of the visible remains. Many of the field banks, especially those in the south eastern half of the site, are constructed from parallel orthostats (upright boulders) with an infill of turf and clearance debris and are about 1.2m in width. Field banks in the north west part of the site are generally lower (about 0.5m) and appear to be a less structured arrangement of cleared stones and turf. The two distinct types of construction indicate that the site may have considerable chronological depth. One of the enclosures is sub-circular, measuring approximately 50m in diameter, and lies close to the centre of the field system. Heather burning has revealed approximately 4m of a stone-built alignment within this enclosure and it appears to have been levelled with a turf and stone revetment to the south side. The enclosure and structure within are likely to be the remains of a domestic yard area and dwelling. Within the field enclosures and in the immediate surrounding area are at least 18 cairns of various sizes, ranging from about 2m to 7m in diameter. Some of the cairns have been disturbed, but many remain intact. In addition some small and elongated cairns are located within the field banks. Most of the cairns are associated with stone clearance of the surrounding landscape. Of the larger cairns, one is situated close to the circular, central, enclosure and measures 7m by 6m, surviving to about 0.9m high. It has been disturbed at the centre, but much of the outer structure survives. The relatively large size of the cairn indicates that it may have been used for funerary purposes. Two other cairns may also have held similar functions: one is about 6m diameter, 0.6m high, located in the most northerly field enclosure and the other is situated close to the southern edge of the complex, measuring 8m by 7m and about 0.6m high. The complex has been interpreted as a settlement and related field system of the Bronze Age, although certain areas of the complex may have been occupied during the Romano-British period. Several similar sites are found on the eastern gritstone moors of the Peak District, although few are located in South Yorkshire. The variation in the types of field enclosures indicate that the settlement either continued in use for a considerable period of time, or that the site has experienced several phases of occupation. All modern walls, gates and fences are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground below 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986)
Barnatt, J W, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of the Peak District, (1986)
Beswick, P, Merrills, D, 'Trans. of the Hunter Archaeological Soc.' in L H Butcher's Survey of Early Settlement ..., , Vol. 12, (1983)


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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