Cairnfield and field system 530m south of Dalebrook House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018998

Date first listed: 11-Feb-2000


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield and field system 530m south of Dalebrook House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Derbyshire

District: North East Derbyshire (District Authority)

Parish: Brampton

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 29267 71013


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.

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 land surface to improve its use for agriculture and on occasions their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots. Occasionally, some of the cairns were used for funerary purposes although without excavation it is difficult to determine which cairns contain burials. Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period (from c.3,400 BC) although the majority date from the Bronze Age (2,000-700 BC). Cairnfields can also retain information concerning the development of land use and agricultural practices as well as the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the prehistoric period.

Linear field systems date from the Bronze Age to the fifth century AD. They usually comprise a discrete block of fields oriented in roughly the same direction. Individual fields can be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought to have been used mainly for crop production. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information about developments in agricultural practices in a particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries. Those which survive well and can be linked to associated settlements are considered worthy of protection.

The cairnfield and field system 530 metres south of Dalebrook House survives well and provides an insight into Bronze Age agricultural use of this moorland.


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


The monument includes a group of prehistoric cairns occupying a bluff of moorland together with associated field banks of linear clearance forming a discrete prehistoric field system.

The cairnfield and linear field banks occupy a bluff of well drained moorland to the east of an extensive area of Bronze Age settlement on Gibbet Moor, the subject of a separate scheduling. The cairnfield was part of the overall pattern of settlement and related activities on the moor, but is separated from other remains by areas of boggy and stony ground. There are approximately 12 cairns standing within an area of stone cleared ground, once forming a discrete area of cultivated land. Most of the cairns appear to have survived intact. They are of varying sizes, the largest being about 4.5m by 6m ranging to smaller examples of approximately 2m in diameter. The cairns are the result of prehistoric land clearance to form suitable ground for cultivation.

Associated with the clearance cairns are several lengths of linear clearance indicating that the area was divided into field plots used for cultivation. Such clearance gradually formed field banks from debris systematically removed from the plots and thrown alongside field hedges or fences. In this example, the linear field banks survive in good condition, are substantial, and form a well-preserved example of a prehistoric field system dating to the Bronze Age.

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: 31268

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 86
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 86

End of official listing