Monument record MDR3969 - Sir William Hill Cairnfield, Sir William Hill Road, Stanage, Eyam

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

In the sheltered lee of Sir William Hill on a south-east facing slope is a small cairnfield discovered in 1983. There are from five to nine small cairns here, with diameters ranging from 1.5 to 4 metres. A short stretch of linear clearance suggests that they are clearance heaps. (1) Scheduled. The monument comprises a series of well-preserved cairns of medium and small stones gathered in prehistoric times as the result of agricultural land clearance. There are up to ten small cairns, mostly complete. The cairnfield was probably a component of a larger cairnfield extending to the north and north-east, but is separated from the other prehistoric remains on the moor by areas of stony, steeply-sloping and potentially boggy ground. The size and location of the cairns, together with indications of linear clearance, indicates that they are the remains of an area of agricultural settlement and land clearance dating to the Bronze Age. (2) In the late 1990s a small cairn at the upper end of this cairnfield, at SK 21767828, started to suffer badly from erosion due to a footpath crossing its western half. As a result, it was fully excavated in July-August 2000. This not only found evidence for early agricultural clearance of Neolithic or very early Bronze Age date, but also for a second phase of ritual deposition in three pits under an enlargement to the cairn. The pits contained placed stones including a saddle quern, sherds from four Beakers, flint scrapers and a token deposit of calcined bone. Associated charcoal gave two radiocarbon dates centred around 2050 BC. A number of scrapers were also placed at the cairn either as the enlargement was built, or subsequently. (3) Research excavations were carried out in 2007 and 2008 in order to place the earlier excavation in its local context. Two trenches were opened in the first season; a single trench and a series of test pits were excavated in the second season. All three trenches contained stone-clearance heaps consistent with agricultural activity in later prehistory and the test pits. None contained any evidence of overt ritual activity, in contrast with the cairn excavated in 2000. It had been hoped that the test pits would reveal artefact concentrations that would give clues as to the location of one or more house sites on the flatter ground. However, the test pits did not contain any such artefact concentrations. A careful study of the distribution of cleared ground within the excavation trenches indicated that the prehistoric agricultural activity did not comprise traction ploughing but rather was carried out using a spade to hand-dig small irregular plots, cultivating around stony patches if it was inconvenient to clear them away. Edges of plots and uncleared patches within plots were discernible within the trenches. Although the amount of land under cultivation in any one year, and the number of years the sites were in use, is not known, it is suggested that the agricultural use of Sir William Hill was not sustained over an extended period of many centuries. (4)

Sources/Archives (4)

  • <1> Article in serial: Barnatt, J. 1986. 'Bronze Age remains on the East Moors of the Peak District', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 106, pp 18-100. p 70; fig 29.
  • <2> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1999. Scheduling Notification. 31239. SMR Cat. No. 438.
  • <3> Article in serial: Wilson, A & Barnatt, J. 2004. 'Excavation of a prehistoric clearance cairn and ritual pits on Sir William Hill, Eyam Moor, Derbyshire, 2000', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 124, pp 13-63.
  • <4> Article in serial: Ashmore, P, Barnatt, J & Wilson, A. 2010. 'The Sir William Hill prehistoric cairnfield, Eyam Moor, Derbyshire: excavations 2007-2008', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 130, pp 63-66.



Grid reference Centred SK 2183 7827 (163m by 137m) (Approximate)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR2943
  • EDR2942

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Record last edited

Mar 2 2012 10:11AM

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