Skip to main content

Scheduled Monument: CAIRN 550M SOUTH OF HOWDEN RESERVOIR DAM WALL (1017663)

Please read our .

Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 391
Date assigned Thursday, January 29, 1998
Date last amended


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 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. Funerary cairns such as the cairn 550m south of Howden Reservoir Dam wall are dated to the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC). They are a relatively common feature in the uplands of Britain and are the stone equivalents of the earthen barrows of the lowlands. Their considerable variation and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. The cairn 550m south of Howden Reservoir Dam wall has an unusual valley floor location. The cairn retains significant detail of its original form. It is one of a small group of cairns in the valleys of the Peak District. DETAILS The monument includes a stone cairn presently standing close to the high water mark of the Derwent Reservoir in North Derbyshire: the cairn is submerged when the reservoir is full. The location of the cairn, which also includes human burial remains, is unusual in being situated on the valley floor, rather than occupying the relatively high ground of the surrounding hills. The cairn stands at a confluence of two watercourses in a relatively broad area of the Derwent Valley. The cairn of medium and small stones measures 24m by 18m and stands 0.7m high. Within the cairn of stones there is evidence for a cist and central pit within a relatively complex internal arrangement. Several artefacts have been recovered from the cairn and its immediate surroundings, including cremated bone, numerous worked flint and chert lithics, a bronze object (possibly a knife) and a rubbing stone. There is also a low platform attached to the south-south west edge of the cairn which may have been a second cairn. There is evidence of stone robbing from the cairn, probably for wall building. The cairn is likely to date to the Bronze Age and, as found with similar monuments elsewhere, may have originally been a clearance cairn before burials were added. The presence of human burial remains indicates that the cairn was likely to have become important to the Bronze Age farmers as an ancestral monument. The unusual location of the cairn on the valley floor places the monument as one of a small but potentially important group of cairns in the Peak District. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, J W - Title: Peak District Barrow Survey - Date: 1989 - Page References: 28:13 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: unpublished survey Article Reference - Title: Derbyshire County Council SMR - Type: SMR - Description: No. 4602; 8215

External Links (0)

Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1998. Scheduling notification: Cairn 550m south of Howden Reservoir Dam wall. List entry no. 1017663. SM Cat. No. 391.



Grid reference Centred SK 1692 9190 (12m by 14m)
Map sheet SK19SE

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Record last edited

Aug 9 2013 12:39PM

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.