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Authority English Heritage
Other Ref SM Cat. No. 449
Date assigned Friday, March 19, 1999
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. The monument comprises several important components associated with prehistoric settlement and agriculture. 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 land surface to improve its use for agriculture and on occasions their distribution pattern can be seen to define field plots. Occasionally some of the cairns were used for funerary purposes, although without excavation it is difficult to determine which cairns contain burials. Clearance cairns were constructed from the Neolithic period (from c.3400 BC), although the majority date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC). Cairnfields can also retain information concerning the development of land use and agricultural practices as well as the diversity of beliefs and social organisation during the prehistoric period. Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (2000-700 BC) to the end of the 5th century AD. Fields can be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The field boundaries can take various forms (including drystone walls or reaves, orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pot alignments, ditches, fences and lynchets) and follow straight or sinuous courses. The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for land which began in the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought to have been used mainly for crop production, although rotation may have been practiced in a mixed farming economy. Field systems represent a coherent economic unit often utilized for long periods of time and can thus provide important information about developements in agricultural practices in a particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries. Small stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of upright or recumbent stones. The circle may be surrounded by earthwork features such as enclosing banks or ditches. Burial cairns may also be found close to or within the circle. Where excavated they have been found to date from the Late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000 BC). We do not fully understand the uses for which these monuments were originally constructed but it is clear that they had considerable ritual importance for the societies that used them. In many instances, excavation has indicated that they provided a focus for burials and the rituals that accompanied the interment of the dead. Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function, helping to mark the passage of time and seasons; others may have provided some form of tribal gathering point for a specific social group. Of the 250 or so stone circles identified in England, over 100 are examples of small stone circles. As a rare monument type, which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation. The stone circle on Rabbit Warren survives well despite the loss of some stones. The evidence for Bronze Age settlement and agriculture are also well- preserved and further significant information will be preserved. DETAILS The monument includes a prehistoric field system with associated cairnfield, an adjacent small stone circle, and the possible site of a building. The field system includes clearance cairns and linear field banks which identify rectangular cultivation plots. Together, the component features form a well- preserved example of a Bronze Age settlement complex. The site occupies a well-drained area of moorland, overlooking an escarpment on the East Moors of Derbyshire. There are approximately 46 to 50 cairns of various sizes, the majority ranging between 2m and 5m in diameter. The cairns, both circular and ovoid in shape, were constructed from cleared stones gathered from the surrounding area. Some of the cairns show slight disturbances although most are complete examples. Also associated with land clearance are several linear embankments of stone and turf defining small rectangular field plots. These were constructed from the periodic clearance of the field plots where stone debris was thrown against fences or hedges erected as field boundaries. At the eastern end of the field system is a small rectangualar enclosure, adjacent to which is the possible site of a circular building. Together, the clearance cairns and linear field banks demonstrate that this area of the moorland was intensively farmed in prehistoric times. At the northern edge of the field system stands a small stone circle, comprising a ring of upright boulders set into the inner edge of a low rubble embankment about 15m wide. Within the circle is the remains of a central kerbed burial cairn with another superimposed on the north eastern section of the embankment. The circle measures approximately 12m in diameter with between 11 and 15 stones remaining, although the arrangement indicates that there may have originally been up to 20 stones. The standing stones range between 0.45m and 1.15m in height. The circle is typical of earlier Bronze Age ceremonial monuments in the Peak District, although it is likely that the cairns were later additions. Contained within the area of protection, and passing through the field system, are braids of a hollow way, now used as a walkers' track, together with a modern farm track. SELECTED SOURCES Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, JW - Title: The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands) - Date: 1998 - Page References: 119-121 Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, JW - Title: The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands) - Date: 1998 - Page References: 120-121 Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, John - Title: The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District - Date: 1990 - Type: DESC TEXT - Description: Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1 Article Reference - Author: Barnatt, J. W. - Title: Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of Debyshire - Date: 1986 - Journal Title: Derbyshire Archaeological Journal - Volume: 106 - Type: DESC TEXT Article Reference - Author: Barnatt, J. W. - Title: Bronze Age Remains on the East Moors of Derbyshire - Date: 1986 - Journal Title: Derbyshire Archaeological journal - Volume: 106 - Type: DESC TEXT

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Sources (1)

  • Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1999. Scheduling Notification: Field system and stone circle on Rabbit Warren, 1150m south east of Park Farm. List entry no. 1016417. SM Cat. No. 449.



Grid reference Centred SK 2805 6843 (436m by 210m)
Map sheet SK26NE

Related Monuments/Buildings (2)

Record last edited

Oct 16 2013 10:07AM

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