Cairnfield with enclosure, house platform and ring cairn 800m north east of Raven Tor


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020233

Date first listed: 09-Mar-2001


Ordnance survey map of Cairnfield with enclosure, house platform and ring cairn 800m north east of Raven Tor
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Derbyshire

District: Derbyshire Dales (District Authority)

Parish: Beeley

National Park: PEAK DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SK 28619 67753


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 as 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 gathered from the surrounding landsurface to improve its use for agriculture. However, funerary cairns are also frequently incorporated, although without excavation it is impossible to determine which cairns contain burials. Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period although the majority of examples date from the 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. They also provide 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 of stones. The bank may be kerbed on the inside and sometimes on the outside as well. They are found mainly in upland areas of England and sometimes occur in pairs or small groups. Occasionally they lie within round barrow cemeteries. Ring cairns date from the Early or Middle Bronze Age. 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 the burial rituals. As a relatively rare class of monument, all positively-identified examples are considered worthy of protection.

Hut circles were the dwelling places of prehistoric farmers and take a variety of forms. Some are stone based and are visible as low walls containing a circular floor area. Others were timber constructions identified as earthwork platforms created to provide a level surface for the houses. Several settlements have been shown to be associated with organised field plots, the fields being defined by low stony banks or groups of clearance cairns. Their longevity of use and their relationship with other monument types provides important information on the diversity of social organisation and farming practices amongst prehistoric communities.

The cairnfield with enclosure, house platform and ring cairn 800m north east of Raven Tor survive well. They are particularly important as a complex of associated and contemporary monument types surviving in good condition and in close proximity to each other.


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


The monument includes a prehistoric cairnfield together with an embanked enclosure, house platform and ring cairn. The whole complex is indicative of Bronze Age settlement and agriculture dating to the second millennium BC. It contains elements of funerary and ceremonial activities as well as those of agricultural and domestic life.

The complex occupies gently sloping ground close to a west-facing escarpment. It comprises a large cairnfield containing at its western edge an enclosure which surrounds a ring cairn, cairns and a house platform.

There are approximately 20 or more cairns in the cairnfield as a whole with a particular concentration at the southern end. The cairns are of varying sizes but typically between 1.5m and 4m in diameter. Most of the cairns are low, standing less than 0.5m high, although a few are higher. Within the cairnfield are stretches of fragmentary linear clearance indicating that the area was once divided into field plots, probably by fences or hedges. Most of the cairns appear to be undisturbed. One of the smaller cairns contains a smoothed boulder with a concave top, interpreted as a prehistoric saddle quern once used for grinding corn.

At the western side of the complex stands an enclosure constructed of turf and stones which appears to have been formed from land clearance debris. The enclosure is ovoid in shape with much of its structure surviving as a well-defined bank enclosing an area about 90m by 55m. It is thought that this may have functioned as a stock enclosure, garden plot, or domestic yard. Within the enclosure are a number of features. Towards the southern end is a ring of turf and stones approximately 8.5m in diameter (externally) and between 1.5m-2m in width. This is a ring cairn, constructed for ceremonial purposes and surrounded by a kerb of stones. A small cairn, funerary in function, has been constructed on the southern edge of the ring cairn. To the north of the ring cairn stand two small cairns and a further circular structure. The latter comprises a platform for a cicular timber building, approximately 8m in diameter, which is likely to have been a domestic building. Arcs of clearance stones surround the house site where they were once placed around the sides of the building.

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: 31277

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 158-9
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 158
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 158
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 158-9
Barnatt, J W, The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands), (1998), 158
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 66
Radley, J, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in A Ring Bank On Beeley Moor, , Vol. 85, (1965), 126-131

End of official listing