Limestone and gritstone field barns have been a defining feature of the landscape of the Peak District of Derbyshire for centuries.
Built by farmers using locally sourced stone, they fit naturally into the landscape from which they rose, even enhancing the natural beauty of the Derbyshire countryside.
Field barns explain how the countryside has been managed over the course of hundreds of years.
Such stone barns have served a variety of purposes, including housing cattle, lambing, milking, winter shelter and hay storage. They also serve as valuable wildlife habitats, as many birds build their nests in the barns’ eaves.
But, with recent changes in farming practices, many of these centuries-old buildings have slowly fallen into disrepair. Farmers are understandably reluctant to put money into maintaining them when they no longer serve any agricultural purpose.
Some stone barns have been converted into houses, a particularly regrettable change of use as the owners lay paved driveways, install utilities and park their cars nearby, fundamentally changing the character of the structures in ways incongruous with the surrounding natural landscape.
These two stone barns, called the Staden Barns, named for the family who built them, are among the prettiest of the many barns I photographed in the Peak District. They straddle a narrow country lane about half a mile southeast of the village of Hartington, on the western edge of the Peak District.