Slade Cairnfield, Blubberhouses Moor, North Yorkshire

Cairnfield:  OS Grid Reference – SE 141 543

Getting Here

One of several recently discovered small cairns

Follow the same directions to reach the recently discovered Slade-02 carving; and simply walk 30 yards southwest.  The scattered ruins of numerous small stone piles, visible only when the heather’s been burnt back, is what you need to be looking for.

Archaeology & History

First discovered on a Northern Antiquarian outing in July 2011, it’s difficult to give an accurate appraisal of this site as much of the landscape all round here is very overgrown in deep heather.   Added to this, there is evidence of more recent medieval and post-medieval industrial activity that’s intruded and/or affected the earlier prehistoric remains that are evident here.  But these factors aside, we can say with certainty that here is a previously unrecognized prehistoric cairnfield — and it may be of some considerable size.

Ruined hut or cairn circle

We have so far located at least seven individual cairns and a cairn circle in relative proximity to each other, thanks to local rangers burning back the heather.  It was the discovery of the cairns which then led to the discovery of the nearby cup-and-ring stones.  Amidst the cairn-spoils there are also distinctive lines of stone, indicative of either walling or embankments of some form or another.  Some of the stone making up this cairnfield appears to have been robbed. We also found that in walking through the deeper heather surrounding this ‘opening’ (where it had been burned away a few months previously), a number of other man-made piles of stone were evident that seemed to indicate more cairns.  There is also evidence of further lines of prehistoric walling, whose precise nature is as yet unknown. But we do know that people have been on this moorland since Mesolithic times (structural and other remains of which are still evident less than a half-mile away).

The site requires greater attention the next time the heather’s been burnt back.


  1. Davies, J., “A Mesolithic Site on Blubberhouses Moor, Wharfedale,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, part 161 (volume 41), 1963.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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