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Prehistoric hut circle settlements, enclosure, cairnfields, funerary cairns, a dispersed medieval settlement, field system and kilns on Heathwaite Fell

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: Prehistoric hut circle settlements, enclosure, cairnfields, funerary cairns, a dispersed medieval settlement, field system and kilns on Heathwaite Fell

List entry Number: 1020802

Location

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

County: Cumbria

District: South Lakeland

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Blawith and Subberthwaite

County: Cumbria

District: South Lakeland

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Kirkby Ireleth

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 12-Nov-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Oct-2002

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 34990

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.

In some areas of medieval England settlement was dispersed across the landscape rather than nucleated into villages. Such dispersed settlement in an area, usually a township or parish, is defined by the lack of a single (or principal) nucleated settlement focus such as a village and the presence instead of small settlement units (small hamlets or farmsteads) spread across the area. These small settlements normally have a degree of interconnection with their close neighbours, for example, in relation to shared common land or road systems. Dispersed settlements varied enormously from region to region, but where they survive as earthworks their distinguishing features include roads and other minor tracks, platforms on which stood houses and other buildings such as barns, enclosed crofts and small enclosed paddocks. In areas where stone was used for building, the outline of building foundations may still be clearly visible. Communal areas of the settlement frequently include features such as bakehouses, pinfolds and ponds. Areas of dispersed medieval settlement are found in both the South Eastern Province and the Northern and Western Province of England. They are found in upland and also some lowland areas. Where found their archaeological remains are one of the most important sources of understanding about rural life in the five or more centuries following the Norman Conquest.

Medieval enclosed field systems comprise fields defined and enclosed by a physical boundary. These boundaries can take various forms including walls, hedges, earth and stone banks and ditches. Component features common to most enclosed field systems include ridge and furrow and lynchets. The development of enclosed field systems during the medieval period was a response to population pressure and expansion onto marginal land, and the extent and morphology of these field systems resulted from the nature of the topography and social and economic constraints such as the size of the poulation they were intended to support. The majority of enclosed field systems are thought to have been used for pasture but others contained cultivated ground. Some continued in use throughout the post-medieval period and are a major feature of the modern landscape. They occur widely throughout England with a tendancy towards upland areas associated with largely dispersed settlement patterns. Medieval enclosed field systems offer good opportunities for understanding medieval rural economy and provide valuable evidence regarding the morphology of field systems, their extent and distribution.

Potash kilns were used to make potash from bracken or wood for use in the early lyes and later soaps of the woollen trade. They are particularly common in south Cumbria where they supplied the local fulling mills which in turn related to the cloth industry based around Kendal and its hinterland. The kilns themselves are substantial stone-built structures being internally a squat, inverted, cone cylinder as wide across the rim as it is deep and narrowing to a smaller diameter at the base with an air tunnel at ground level. Kilnwood kilns, whilst sharing a similar geographical distribution as potash kilns, are less common and although of the same general external appearance they are much larger, being wider and deeper and having a thicker enclosing wall. They were used to dry wood for use in the lead smelting process, particularly prior to the 18th century.

The prehistoric hut circle settlements, enclosure, cairnfields and funerary cairns on Heathwaite Fell survive well and form part of a well-preserved prehistoric landscape extending along the fellsides of south west Cumbria which together represent evidence of long-term management and exploitation of this area in prehistoric times. Additionally the dispersed medieval settlement and its associated field system and kilns also survive well and will add greatly to our knowledge and understanding of the settlement and economy during the medieval period. Overall the monument is a rare example of a landscape within which evidence of human exploitation is visible through a range of well-preserved monuments dating to the prehistoric and medieval periods.

History

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

Details

The monument, which falls into 14 separate areas of protection, includes the earthworks and buried remains of two prehistoric hut circle settlements, an enclosure, individual hut circles, cairnfields, funerary cairns, a dispersed medieval settlement and its associated field system, and three kilns, as surveyed by Quartermaine in 1987. It is located on the raised but undulating plateau of Heathwaite Fell and represents evidence of the Bronze Age and medieval exploitation of this landscape. The monument consists of a large, central core area containing one of the hut circle settlements, two individual hut circles, the bulk of the clearance cairns, a small number of funerary cairns, the dispersed medieval settlement and its field system and the kilns. Scattered around this core area are a group of satellite monuments including a second hut circle settlement, other individual hut circles and platforms, an enclosure, funerary cairns and small cairnfields.

The core area, which is centred at approximately SD25358740, contains the larger of the two prehistoric hut circle settlements. This hut circle settlement is centred at approximately SD25408704 and consists of a group of eight circular or oval platforms terraced into a steep slope. They vary in size from 2.5m to 8.4m in diameter and are considered to be hut or building platforms. Two other hut platforms are located to the west at SD25118735 and SD25178748. Throughout the core area, but concentrated more in the south and west parts, are over 200 clearance cairns and short lengths of stone bank. These represent the deliberate clearing of stone from the land in order to render the ground suitable for agricultural cultivation or stock control. Five of the cairns within this cairnfield are considered to be funerary monuments; these are generally larger and better constructed than the clearance cairns and are positioned on prominent locations. The dispersed medieval settlement and its associated field system overlies much of the core area and thus includes within it numerous prehistoric features. It consists of a farmstead of more than one period of construction, located at SD25358729. The farmstead comprises five interlinked stone-walled enclosures, two of which contain improved land suggesting agricultural cultivation and three of which contain unimproved land suggesting stock control. Immediately north of the largest enclosure there is an oval-shaped semicircular platform with walling around the inner edge of the terrace which is interpreted as the site of a domestic structure, whilst elsewhere within the enclosures there are three small rectangular stone strutures of uncertain function. The associated field system comprises a series of extended banks and walls centred upon the farmstead which define the approximate boundaries of two and possibly three large fields. The southern field encloses an area of about 5.3ha and contains a cairnfield and some faint narrow ridge and furrow oriented north-south. The western field encloses an area of about 5.7ha and contains extensive ridge and furrow which is compromised by a large cairnfield causing the ridge and furrow to change orientation in places to avoid various cairns. Only in the north west part of the field, where there are no cairns, is there ridge and furrow of a uniform pattern. The possible third field lies to the east and north east of the farmstead but is only partly enclosed. It too was partly cultivated as evidenced by occasional patches of ridge and furrow. A smaller fourth field, only partly enclosed and containing faint ridge and furrow, is located at SD25608772, while a small enclosure with an entrance on its north side and traces of a possible stone structure adjacent to the entrance is located at SD25208723. Three kilns lie close to the farmstead, two to the west and one to the east. They are sturdy, circular stone-walled features with thick outer banks and deep internally revetted central hollows. Two of the three kilns appear to have been constructed from former cairns and two have entrances. They were used to produce ashes, known as potash, from bracken or wood, the ash then being used for the early lyes and later soaps of the woollen trade. Alternatively they may have produced kilnwood, a dried timber free of sap which was used to smelt lead ore.

South of the core area, centred at SD25458683 (area 02) on lower ground either side of a rocky knoll, is a small prehistoric hut circle settlement consisting of three circular platforms between 2m-4m in diameter terraced into the hillslope, a sunken circular hollow considered to be the site of an isolated hut about 120m south west of the three platforms, a small cairnfield and a funerary cairn. Centred at SD25428622 (area 03) is a rectangular-shaped stone-walled stock enclosure, a hut circle and a small cairnfield. The enclosure is divided into two similar sized parts with three entrances directly into the southern part but no direct access into the northern part, access to the northern part being via a single entrance from the southern part. About 80m to the north east there is a small circular hut and to the south of this hut are a group of five clearance cairns. Centred at SD25748645 (area 04) is a small cairnfield consisting of 18 clearance cairns together with two funerary cairns. The northern funerary cairn has been mutilated by stone robbing to construct a shelter on one side while the southern cairn has a central depression, probably the result of antiquarian disturbance. About 200m to the north east (area 05) are two more funerary cairns both exhibiting signs of past disturbance. Centred at SD25848762 (area 06) is a group of eight predominantly large cairns some of which have central depressions suggesting antiquarian disturbance. These cairns are not typical of stone clearance mounds and may have had a funerary function. About 300m further north (area 07) is a small group of clearance cairns, a length of stone bank, and a circular well-defined prominent mound with a central depression which is considered to be a funerary cairn. At SD25638796 (area 08) there is a disturbed funerary cairn, one of two known as Giants Graves which were investigated in 1842. Charred bones and a stone ring were found at the centre of the cairn during the investigation. The other cairn lies at SD25588803 (area 09) and contained charred bones covered by a thin flat stone in the centre of the circle. Centred at SD25028824 (area 10) are two large funerary cairns, a hut platform terraced into the hillslope, and a single clearance cairn, whilst a short distance to the north, at SD24988833 (area 11), there are the remains of a hut circle with an entrance on its north east side. Centred at SD24998849 (area 12) is an alignment of five clearance cairns and a larger, prominently situated oval-shaped cairn considered to have been a funerary monument. The clearance cairns are aligned north west-south east and may reflect a prehistoric boundary line. To the north, at SD24968867 (area 13), is a well-defined circular ring cairn 10m in diameter which is considered to be a funerary monument, whilst on slightly higher ground some 75m to the east (area 14) is a hut platform consisting of an oval terrace set into the hillslope with a corresponding mound of spoil on the downslope side.

An information post, the surface of a minor road and the surfaces of trackways are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Heathwaite Fell Survey Catalogue, (1987)
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 1-18
Quartermaine, J, Leech, R H, Upland Settlement of the Lake District: Result of Recent Surveys, (1997), 1-18

National Grid Reference: SD 24970 88673, SD 24977 88336, SD 24988 88497, SD 25019 88245, SD 25034 88644, SD 25329 87427, SD 25422 86220, SD 25453 86824, SD 25584 88030, SD 25631 87969, SD 25744 86465, SD 25836 87618, SD 25844 87900, SD 25998 86690

Map

Map
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End of official listing