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Monument record MDR7767 - Cairnfield, north-east of Raven Tor, Beeley Moor, Beeley

Type and Period (4)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

The monument includes a prehistoric cairnfield together with an embanked enclosure, house platform and ring cairn. The whole complex is indicative of Bronze Age settlement and agriculture dating to the second millennium BC. It contains elements of funerary and ceremonial activities as well as those of agricultural and domestic life. The complex comprises a large cairnfield, containing at its western edge an enclosure that surrounds a ring cairn, cairns and a house platform. There are approximately 20 or more cairns in the cairnfield as a whole, with a particular concentration at the southern end. The cairns are of varying sizes but typically between 1.5m and 4m in diameter. Most of the cairns are low, standing less than 0.5m high, although a few are higher. Within the cairnfield are stretches of fragmentary linear clearance indicating that the area was once divided into field plots, probably by fences or hedges. Most of the cairns appear to be undisturbed. One of the smaller cairns contains a smoothed boulder with a concave top, interpreted as a prehistoric saddle quern once used for grinding corn. At the western side of the complex stands an enclosure constructed of turf and stones, which appears to have been formed from land clearance debris. The enclosure is ovoid in shape with much of its structure surviving as a well-defined bank enclosing an area about 90m by 55m. It is thought that this may have functioned as a stock enclosure, garden plot, or domestic yard. Within the enclosure are a number of features. Towards the southern end is a ring of turf and stones approximately 8.5m in diameter (externally) and between 1.5m-2m in width. This is a ring cairn, constructed for ceremonial purposes and surrounded by a kerb of stones. A small cairn, funerary in function, has been constructed on the southern edge of the ring cairn. To the north of the ring cairn stand two small cairns and a further circular structure. The latter comprises a platform for a circular timber building, approximately 8m in diameter, which is likely to have been a domestic building. Arcs of clearance stones surround the house site where they were once placed around the sides of the building. See Scheduling description for more details. (1) On land rising towards Raven Tor, on the brink of the escarpment overlooking the Derwent, are two circles about 50 feet apart, surrounded by an incomplete rubble bank enclosure of about one acre, strongly marked on the west and south, but very fragmentary on the north and east [this is the embanked enclosure on the western edge of the now scheduled area]. In April-July 1965, at the better of the two circles, the bank was restored, and the centre and part of the outside excavated down to bedrock. The other circle was sectioned, and the whole surveyed in July 1965. On the south side of the main circle was a small but distinct swell in the bank, which appears to be a small cairn, either placed on the bank or an enlargement of the bank itself. A small cist in the centre of this cairn was full of soil that held one sherd of prehistoric pottery. On the west side of the cairn is the only breach in the ring-bank, which may have been an entrance, or it could have been a by-product of the erection of the cairn. It faces south-west. As no funerary evidence was found to explain the very substantial ring-bank, it seems probable that a pre-Roman hut was found (although no evidence was found for this either). See article for more details. (2) The most southerly of the ring cairns was excavated by Radley in 1964. It has an internal diameter of only 6.0m x 5.0m, and there is a possible entrance to the southwest. Radley concluded that because of the lack of cremations, the site was more likely to be a house. However, there was no occupation debris and, if the 'entrance' is interpreted as robbing to build the cairn, the ring may originally have been continuous. A kerbstone across the inner edge of the entrance suggests that this is the case. The interpretation of this site must remain open. The other ring cairn is poorly preserved with two breaks in the circuit. It has an internal diameter of 5.0m x 4.0m. The only feature discovered by Radley was a patch of burnt soil. (3)

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2001. Scheduling Notification: Cairnfield, house platform and Ring cairn 800m NE of Raven Tor. 31277. Cat. No.: 514.
  • <2> Article in serial: Radley, J. 1965. 'A ring bank on Beeley Moor', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 85, pp 126-131.
  • <3> 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.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Barnatt, J. 1978. The Stone Circles of the Peak. p. 186.
  • <5> Monograph: Barnatt, J. 1990. The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District. p. 66.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Hill, R (PPJPB). 1985. Peak Park Treasures. B531.



Grid reference Centred SK 28619 67760 (231m by 385m)

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Record last edited

Sep 1 2016 10:22AM

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