Ancient Monuments

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Ring cairn on Askham Fell including The Cop Stone

A Scheduled Monument in Askham, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.5871 / 54°35'13"N

Longitude: -2.7814 / 2°46'53"W

OS Eastings: 349598.076609

OS Northings: 521601.20774

OS Grid: NY495216

Mapcode National: GBR 9H0D.MF

Mapcode Global: WH81J.7YRV

Entry Name: Ring cairn on Askham Fell including The Cop Stone

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1925

Last Amended: 25 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007362

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22533

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 on Askham Fell together with the Cop Stone
standing stone. It includes an approximately circular discontinuous
turf-covered stone bank 1.5m - 4m wide and up to 0.2m high that has an
internal diameter of c.20m. Four stones 0.3m - 0.38m high protrude from the
bank and there is a slight semicircular projection of the bank on the
northern side. The area within the bank is generally flat but pock marked with
shallow depressions, the largest being off-centre towards the west and
measuring about 1.5m diameter. Set within the south eastern side of the bank
is the Cop Stone, an unworked orthostat 1.7m high by 1.2m by 1m.
Antiquarian records indicate that during the mid 1880's the bank was almost
continuous and contained more than ten recumbent stones.

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 minor disturbance to the monument's bank and centre, the ring cairn on
Askham Fell and the Cop Stone survive reasonably well and undisturbed
archaeological deposits will lie within the ring cairn. 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 between 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
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell, (1992), 6
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell Survey Catalogue, (1992), 23-4
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell Survey Catalogue, (1992), 20
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Ring Cairns, (1988)
RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)

Source: Historic England

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