Ancient Monuments

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Ring cairn on Askham Fell and four adjacent stones

A Scheduled Monument in Askham, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.5903 / 54°35'25"N

Longitude: -2.7845 / 2°47'4"W

OS Eastings: 349399.704167

OS Northings: 521960.30804

OS Grid: NY493219

Mapcode National: GBR 8HZC.Y9

Mapcode Global: WH81J.6W8D

Entry Name: Ring cairn on Askham Fell and four adjacent stones

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 25 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007359

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22530

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Askham

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Askham with Lowther

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument is a ring cairn located on Askham Fell together with four
adjacent stones a short distance to the south east. It includes a turf-covered
mound of stones up to 0.7m high and 10m in diameter. Around the edge of the
summit of this cairn are ten large, closely spaced, earthfast boulders up to
0.9m high with smaller stones in between, which form a circle 6m in diameter.
The centre of the cairn, within the circle of boulders, contains a hollow 0.4m
deep. There are four upright stones 8m south east of the cairn, which are up
to 0.2m high set in a rectangular configuration measuring 2.5m by 3m.
Limited antiquarian investigation at the centre of the ring cairn located an
adult cremation and two sherds of pottery deposited in a hollow 0.6m in
diameter and 0.6m deep and covered by a layer of sand. Above the sand was a
food vessel identified as a Yorkshire Vase and now deposited in the British

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of
stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may
be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small
uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of
England and are mostly discovered and authenticated by fieldwork and ground
level survey, although a few are large enough to be visible on aerial
photographs. They often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples.
Occasionally they lie within round barrow cemeteries. Ring cairns are
interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact
nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has
revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and
pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial
rituals. Many areas of upland have not yet been surveyed in detail and the
number of ring cairns in England is not accurately known. However, available
evidence indicates a population of between 250 and 500 examples. As a
relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form,
all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological
deposits are considered worthy of preservation.

Despite limited antiquarian investigation at the centre of the monument, the
ring cairn on Askham Fell with its associated stones survives well. This
investigation located human remains and pottery, and further evidence of
interments and grave goods will exist within the cairn and upon the old
landsurface beneath. The monument lies within an area of open fell rich in
prehistoric monuments, and is situated upon an alignment of funerary monuments
stretching for over 1.5km along the natural communication route over a col
beteen Lowther and Ullswater valleys. It thus indicates the importance of this
area in prehistoric times and will contribute to the study of the ceremonial
function of ring cairns and other spatially associated monuments in the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Greenwell, W , British Barrows, (1877), 400-1
Kinnes, I A, Longworth, I H, Catalogue of Excavated Prehistoric and Romano British Material in Greenwell Collection, (1985)
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell, (1992), 7
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell Survey Catalogue, (1992), 21
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell Survey Catalogue, (1992), 23-4
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell Survey Catalogue, (1992), 21
SMR No. 2947, Cumbria SMR, Moor Divock, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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