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Three prehistoric cairnfields and an associated field system on Corney Fell, 1.2km south east of High Corney

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Three prehistoric cairnfields and an associated field system on Corney Fell, 1.2km south east of High Corney

List entry Number: 1019140


The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Copeland

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Waberthwaite

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 14-Dec-1999

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 32839

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

The Cumbrian uplands comprise large areas of remote mountainous terrain, much of which is largely open fellside. As a result of archaeological surveys between 1980 and 1990 within the Lake District National Park, these fells have become one of the best recorded upland areas in England. On the open fells there is sufficient well preserved and understood evidence over extensive areas for human exploitation of these uplands from the Neolithic to the post- medieval period. On the enclosed land and within forestry the archaeological remains are fragmentary, but they survive sufficiently well to show that human activity extended beyond the confines of the open fells. Bronze Age activity accounts for the most extensive use of the area, and evidence for it includes some of the largest and best preserved field systems and cairn fields in England, as well as settlement sites, numerous burial monuments, stone circles and other ceremonial remains. Taken together, their remains can provide a detailed insight into life in the later prehistoric period. Of additional importance is the well-preserved and often visible relationship between the remains of earlier and later periods, since this provides an understanding of changes in land use through time. Because of their rarity in a national context, excellent state of preservation and inter-connections, most prehistoric monuments on the Lake District fells 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 landsurface to improve its use for agriculture, and on occasion their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots. They were constructed from the Neolithic period (from about 3400 BC) although the majority of examples appear to be the result of field clearance which began during the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). Their considerable longevity and variation in the size, content and associations of cairnfields provide important information on the development of land use and agricultural practices. Cairnfields also contain information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the prehistroic period. The three prehistoric cairnfields and an associated field system on Corney Fell, 1.2km south east of High Corney survive well and form part of a well preserved prehistoric landscape extending along the fellsides of south west Cumbria. In conjunction with a wide range of other prehistoric remains in the vicinity the monument represents evidence of long term management and exploitation of this area in prehistoric times.


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


The monument includes three prehistoric cairnfields and an associated field system located on the west facing slopes of Corney Fell, 1.2km south east of High Corney. It represents evidence for the prehistoric exploitation of this landscape and includes one relatively large cairnfield within which there is a prehistoric field system, together with two smaller cairnfields lying a short distance to the south. The northern and largest cairnfield is centred at approximately SD13109208 and includes over 80 clearance cairns and a small number of short lengths of stone bank. Within this cairnfield are three distinct groups of cairns; group A consists of 50 large, prominent and well defined oval shaped cairns measuring between 2.9m to 10.1m long by 1.7m to 8.7m wide and up to 0.8m high, some of which have been altered and expanded at a later date. A number of cairns in this group have also been merged by additional stone and as a result have an irregular shape. Some of these cairns also form alignments which are interpreted as forming the line of old field boundaries which appear to define the edges of the cairnfield. Immediately south of this group lies a small field system comprising two roughly parallel alignments of cairns and stone banks which functioned as field boundaries and which run downslope approximately 20m apart. A lynchet defines the upper edge of this field and the concentration of clearance stone into prominent, parallel banks indicates that the field would have been utilised as a small cultivation plot. Group B lies to the south east of the field system and consists of over 20 smaller clearance cairns and a short length of stone bank, while group C lies to the east of the field system and consists of 10 smaller clearance cairns and a short length of stone bank. The scale of stone clearance in this cairnfield, particularly within the cairns of group A, suggests that the cairnfield was a product of an extended episode of prehistoric agricultural exploitation. In addition three of the larger cairns have semi-circular bields or shelters built into them and this disturbance is interpreted as being of post-medieval date. The central cairnfield is centred on sloping ground at approximately SD13059180 and includes 18 oval shaped clearance cairns and a small number of stone banks. The cairns measure between 2.2m to 8.7m long by 1.4m to 5.6m wide and up to 0.6m high. The steep nature of the hillslope upon which this cairnfield lies suggests that it had a pastoral rather than an agricultural function. The southern cairnfield is centred at approximately SD12889165 and includes 11 oval shaped clearance cairns measuring between 2m to 5m in length by 1.8m to 3.5m in width and up to 0.65m high. This cairnfield is interpreted as being the product of a single stone clearance episode.

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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Quartermaine, J, Charlesground Gill Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Charlesground Gill Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Charlesground Gill Survey Catalogue, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 20-6
Quartermaine, J, Charlesground Gill Survey Catalogue, (1985)

National Grid Reference: SD 13053 91961


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This copy shows the entry on 15-Aug-2018 at 03:35:56.

End of official listing