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.
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. Ring cairns are prehistoric ritual monuments comprising a circular bank of stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small upright or recumbent boulders. They are found mainly in upland areas of England and often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples. They are chiefly dated to the Early and Middle Bronze Age. The exact nature of the ritual concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with burial rituals. The cairnfield and ring cairn on Rabbit Warren survive well. The importance of the monument is enhanced as agricultural clearance measures survive together with an associated and contemporary ritual structure. Further information on their date, formation and inter-relationships will be preserved.
The monument includes a prehistoric cairnfield which includes a ring cairn. The cairnfield was created as the result of land clearance for agriculture during the Bronze Age. The site occupies a well-drained ridge of moorland on the East Moors of Derbyshire. There are up to 50 cairns of various sizes, the majority ranging between 2m and 4m metres in diameter, although there are several larger examples of up to 7.5m in diameter. Many of the cairns are circular, but others are elongated where they may have been associated with previous field boundaries. The cairns were constructed from cleared stones gathered from the surrounding area. Although a few of the cairns show slight disturbances, the majority are complete examples. Also associated with land clearance are slight traces of stony lynchets and short lengths of field banks consisting of stone and turf. These indicate that the area was likely to have been divided into field plots created by debris thrown against fences or hedges erected as field boundaries. Close to the south eastern end of the cairnfield stands a ring cairn of approximately 11.5m external diameter. It is constructed as a circular bank of stones and turf with an internal diameter of 7m. It now stands up to 0.3m high. On the eastern side of the ring cairn is a fallen stone which would have stood about 0.4m-0.5m high. Although the structure is interpreted as a ring cairn, the fallen standing stone indicates that, alternatively, it may have once been an embanked stone circle, similar to another example on the same moorland to the south east. The monument is likely to be from the Early Bronze Age and may date to the earlier phases of settlement on these moorlands.
Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, JW - Title: The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands) - Date: 1998 - Page References: 116
Book Reference - Author: Barnatt, JW - Title: The Chatsworth Estate Historic Landscape Survey (Moorlands) - Date: 1998 - Page References: 116-7