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Skiddaw Massif National Mapping Programme project

The Skiddaw Massif Project was undertaken in 2001 using National Mapping Programme (NMP) standards. The project area covers a distinct area of upland in the Lake District National Park in Cumbria. Parts are designated by English Nature as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The landscape is dominated by industrial mining and quarrying sites, but also has some prehistoric and Roman remains.

Colour aerial photograph showing the snow capped peaks of several hills disappearing into a cloudy distance
The Uldale Fells, photographed on 04-DEC-2009, looking south to Knott and Skiddaw and the main Lake District fells beyond (NMR 20974/50) © Historic England

The prehistoric and beyond

There had been limited survey work in the project area on a group of Iron Age enclosures on Aughertree Fell before the project. However, the need to better record and understand the wider archaeological landscape was identified. The discovery of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure on Green How from the air further demonstrated the need for survey. This enclosure was the first of its type in the north of England.

The mapping has helped to understand the relationships between these enclosures and the complex pattern of prehistoric field boundaries, droveways and hollow ways.

The north-eastern part of the Skiddaw massif is dominated by Carrock Fell. The summit of this steep-sided hill is crowned by the stone rampart of a hillfort that is unparalleled in the Lake District. The date of this fort remains uncertain but it could be pre-Iron Age.

Colour aerial photograph showing a hilltop in snow with fields visible in the valley beyond
The stone ramparts of the fort on Carrock Fell can clearly be seen on this aerial photograph taken on 04-DEC-2009. It is thought that the fort could pre-date the Iron Age (NMR 20974/14) © Historic England

As well as prehistoric activity the survey also recovered traces of more recent interventions in the landscape. Extensive evidence of lead and copper mining was recorded, complementing the detailed analytical field survey of the mining remains in Roughton Gill.

On the south side of the massif a series of rectangular mounds were recorded. These are the remains of medieval pillow mounds (artificial rabbit warrens), and are the first of this site type to be recorded in this area.

Colour aerial photograph showing an area of rough moorland adjacent to some enclosed fields of rough pasture
The rectangular structures seen in this photograph tken on 20-JUL-2000 are the remains of medieval pillow mounds, artificial rabbit warrens, situated close to the edge of enclosed farmland (NMR 17495/06) © Historic England

The images used on this page are copyright Historic England unless specified otherwise. For further details of any photographs or other images and for copies of these, or the plans and reports related to the project, please contact the Historic England Archive.

For further information on a project or any other aspect of the work of the Remote Sensing Team please contact us via email using the link below.

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