There are more than 4500 stone barns in the Dales, most of which were built during the 18th Century. At one time they played a central role in the winter housing of stock and the storage of hay to feed them. A typical field-barn had standings for six to eight young cattle and, on the loft above them, hay which had been grown in the nearby fields. This was used to feed the stock below the manure from which would then be spread on the surrounding fields. The grass that grew on these fields was made into hay and stored in the barn to feed the cattle - thus a creating a conservation circle. Sadly, like many aspects of farming at that time, this system was very labour-intensive and the barns gradually fell out of use as both hay and animals were housed closer to the main farm. Most of the barns are now redundant; they stand empty, keeping a silent watch over the fields and livestock that once they protected and nurtured.