Six round cairns at Rustif Head, 860m south east of Mount Pleasant Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021169

Date first listed: 08-Jul-1969

Date of most recent amendment: 13-Nov-2003


Ordnance survey map of Six round cairns at Rustif Head, 860m south east of Mount Pleasant Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Ryedale (District Authority)

Parish: Lockton


National Grid Reference: SE 85738 90223, SE 85759 90193, SE 85786 90278, SE 85787 90331, SE 85797 90378, SE 85818 90422


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

Reasons for Designation

Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined compartments called cists. In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch. Often occupying prominent locations, cairns are a major visual element in the modern landscape. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands and are the stone equivalent of the earthen round barrows of the lowlands. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.

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 disturbance from modern ploughing, the six round cairns at Rustif Head, 860m south east of Mount Pleasant Farm have surviving archaeological deposits which will preserve evidence for their date and form and the burials placed within them. Evidence for earlier land use will survive beneath the cairns. The cairns were formerly part of a cairnfield, situated within an area which includes many other 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 six round cairns which are situated on level ground on the central plateau of the Tabular Hills. Each of the six cairns is in a separate area of protection.

Each cairn has a stony mound. The southern two mounds stand up to 0.4m and 0.6m, but the remainder have been reduced by ploughing and are each no more than 0.3m high. Of the two southern cairns the south western cairn has been truncated on its southern side by a former field boundary so that it measures up to 5m in an east to west direction, but no more than 3.5m from north to south; formerly it had a diameter of 7m. The south eastern cairn measures up to 7m in diameter and has a small boulder in the centre; formerly it had a diameter of 9m. The next cairn to the north also has a boulder in the centre and measures 4m in diameter; formerly it had a diameter of 6m. The most northern cairn has a diameter of 5m; formally it had a diameter of 7m. The remaining two cairns are poorly defined with diameters between 6m and 8m; formerly they had diameters of 9m. All of the cairns have been disturbed by modern ploughing which has reduced them in size. Originally the cairns were part of a cairnfield which consisted of at least 20 cairns, interspersed with low banks forming part of a field system associated with the cairnfield, and lynchets which were the result of cultivation. The majority of the cairns would have been field clearance cairns, constructed from stone cleared from the ground to improve it for agriculture, but some of the larger cairns would also have been used for burials. Most of the cairns and the associated banks, lynchets and old ground surfaces between them have been destroyed by modern ploughing; the six surviving cairns included within this monument are thought to have been the largest and therefore the most likely to have been used for burials. The cairns lie in an area which has many other prehistoric monuments, including burial monuments and the remains of prehistoric land division.

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: 35901

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Craster, O E, OW819, (1967)
Craster, OE, AM7, (1967)
Title: 1st Edition 6" Ordnance Survey sheet 76 Source Date: 1854 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing