Prehistoric cairnfield and associated field system 730m ENE of Birkerthwaite


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019616

Date first listed: 05-Jan-2001


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric cairnfield and associated field system 730m ENE of Birkerthwaite
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1019616 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 18-Dec-2018 at 22:57:42.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Copeland (District Authority)

Parish: Eskdale

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SD 18630 98365


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.

The prehistoric cairnfield and associated field system 730m ENE of Birkerthwaite survives well and forms part of a large area of 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 a prehistoric cairnfield and associated field system, located on undulating ground north of Smallstone Beck 730m ENE of Birkerthwaite. It represents Bronze Age exploitation of this landscape and includes over 40 circular and oval-shaped clearance cairns up to 1m high. The circular cairns measure between 2.2m and 6m in diameter while the oval-shaped cairns measure between 2.7m and 8.8m long by 2.4m and 6.9m wide. The cairns are predominantly arranged in two groups: One group of ten is centred towards the north eastern end of the monument at approximately SD18789854. The larger group is centred towards the south western end of the monument at approximately SD18579835. Associated with this latter group of clearance cairns is a field system consisting of a small stone-walled enclosure about 13m in diameter, together with an alignment of clearance cairns, which are considered to represent the line of an old field boundary in which sporadic patches of stone clearance were piled against a fence or hedge. To the south west of this cairn alignment there is a cairn-free area considered to be the site of an old field plot. Elsewhere within the cairnfield there are other cairn-free areas which may also represent the sites of old fields.

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: 32890

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Leech, R, Birkby Fell Survey Catalogue, (1982)
Leech, R, Birkby Fell Survey Catalogue, (1982)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 60-73
Cherry, J , 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Cairns In The Birker Fell And Ulpha Fell Area, , Vol. LXI, (1961), 7-15

End of official listing