Cairnfield and ring cairn 900m north west of Three Lords' Stones


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019695

Date first listed: 15-Nov-1934

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Apr-2001


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield and ring cairn 900m north west of Three Lords' Stones
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. 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 - 1019695 .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 20-Jan-2019 at 10:36:11.


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

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: LCPs of Fylingdales and Hawsker-cum-Stainsacre


National Grid Reference: NZ 96036 00729


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.

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may have stone kerbing on the inside and outside made up of small uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are mainly found in upland areas of England and are mostly discovered and authenticated by fieldwork. They often occur in pairs or small groups and are occasionally associated with round barrow cemeteries. Ring cairns are interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and pottery taken to indicate feasting activities associated with burial rites. As a relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form, all postively identified examples retaining significant archaeological deposits are considered worthy of preservation. Ring cairns are unusual on the North York Moors and this is an important and well-preserved example. The cairnfield and ring cairn have survived well, so significant information about the relationship between them, their original form and any burials placed within them will be preserved. Evidence of earlier land use will also survive beneath the monument.


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


The monument includes the buried and earthwork remains of a cairnfield located on the south eastern flank of Howdale Moor. The monument occupies level ground to the east of a small gill with land sloping down to the south and east. Howdale Moor is the easternmost extent of the sandstone, heather covered moor characteristic of the North York Moors. Today the moor is little used but archaeological evidence indicates that this has not always been the case. The prehistoric period in particular saw extensive agricultural use of the area. It was also used for burials and activities associated with the carving of patterns on exposed rock. Remains of these activities survive today. The cairnfield includes at least 18 cairns and extends over an area approximately 240m by 200m. The cairns are constructed of stony mounds measuring up to 5m in diameter and up to 0.5m in height. These are the result of stone clearance in the Bronze Age to improve the land for farming. Evidence from other similar monuments in the north of England shows that such cairns may also have been used for burials or cremations. The field system associated with the clearance cairns is indicated by sinuous linear earthworks which are interpreted as the remains of field boundaries. There are two separate lengths of field system surviving as low earth and stone banks. One of these extends east to west for 50m and is 3m wide and 0.25m high. The second has a reverse `S'-shaped bank which measures up to 2m wide and 0.25m high with a total length of 70m. The settlement from which this area of land was farmed has yet to be identified but is thought to be located nearby. The ring cairn is identified on the map as an `enclosure'. It is identifiable as a circular bank with an overall external diameter of 20m. The bank is 2.5m wide and up to 0.75m high. There is a gap in the eastern side of the bank thought to be the result of investigations in the past.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 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: 31375

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Smith, M J B, Excavated Bronze Age Burial Mounds of Durham and N' land., (1994), 1-38
Spratt, D A, Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, (1994), 109-122

End of official listing