Maw Rigg cairnfield in Langdale Forest


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019631

Date first listed: 24-Nov-2000


Ordnance survey map of Maw Rigg cairnfield in Langdale Forest
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Darncombe-cum-Langdale End


National Grid Reference: SE 91970 93963


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

Reasons for Designation

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. However, funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without excavation it may be impossible to determine which cairns contain burials. Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period (from c.3400 BC), although the majority of examples appear to be the result of field clearance which began during the earlier Bronze Age and continued into the later Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). The 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 retain information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the prehistoric period.

Despite limited disturbance the Maw Rigg cairnfield in Langdale Forest has survived well. Significant information about its form and development will survive. Evidence for the nature of Bronze Age agriculture and earlier land use will be preserved in the old ground surface between and beneath the cairns. The cairnfield is situated within an area which includes many prehistoric burial monuments. Associations such as this offer important scope for the study of the relationship between agricultural and ritual activity in the prehistoric period.


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


The monument includes a cairnfield situated on the narrow sandstone ridge between Stockland Beck and Hipperley Beck, in the south eastern part of Langdale Forest. The cairnfield consists of at least 185 cairns, many of them well-defined, distributed across the very gentle south east facing slope of the ridge, largely between the 150m and 190m contours. There are two dense concentrations of cairns towards the northern end of the cairnfield and four more dispersed groups; two at the southern end of the ridge and one each at the western and northern extremities of the cairnfield. The cairns are sub-circular mounds constructed from medium-sized stones and small boulders, although there are one or two which are more elongated in shape. Some are built around large erratic boulders. Most are between 3m and 5m in diameter, although there are a few smaller and larger. They stand between 0.3m to 0.6m high. In a few places the cairns have been damaged by forestry ploughing and some of these have been reduced in height to less than 0.3m. The majority are field clearance cairns which are the result of clearing the ground to improve it for agriculture, but some of the larger cairns were also used as burial mounds. Interspersed between the cairns in the northern concentrations, traces of tumbled walling are visible. These are interpreted as part of the field systems which were in use with the clearance cairns. The cairnfield lies in an area where there are many prehistoric burial monuments as well as further field systems and clearance cairns. The surface of the gravelled forestry track which runs in a north west to south east direction through the western edge of the cairnfield is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


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

Legacy System number: 34561

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Spratt, D A , 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology in North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, , Vol. 87, (1993)
Title: Forestry Commission Areas North York Moors Archaeological Survey Source Date: 1992 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Sites 2.129-235 and 2.240-246
Title: Ordnance Survey 2nd Edition 25" sheet 61/16 Source Date: 1892 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing