Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Gunnerkeld concentric stone circle

A Scheduled Monument in Shap Rural, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.5532 / 54°33'11"N

Longitude: -2.6691 / 2°40'8"W

OS Eastings: 356823.018718

OS Northings: 517754.257048

OS Grid: NY568177

Mapcode National: GBR 9HSS.YL

Mapcode Global: WH81R.ZT5B

Entry Name: Gunnerkeld concentric stone circle

Scheduled Date: 30 March 1925

Last Amended: 22 February 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007608

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22489

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Shap Rural

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Shap with Swindale St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument is Gunnerkeld concentric stone circle which is located 200m
south-west of Gunnerwell Farm on the top of a slight ridge. The monument
includes an outer circle measuring c.30m north-south by 24m east-west of 19
large granite stones, threeof which are upright and just over 1m tall. There
is an entrance on the northern side of the outer circle between two of these
large stones. Within the outer circle is an inner circle measuring c.18m
north-south by 16m east-west of 31 granite stones. This inner circle forms the
kerb of an earth and stone cairn up to 1m high. Limited antiquarian excavation
of the central cairn located a stone cist.

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

Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of
upright or recumbent stones. The circle of stones may be surrounded by
earthwork features such as enclosing banks and ditches. Single upright stones
may be found within the circle or outside it and avenues of stones radiating
out from the circle occur at some sites. Burial cairns may also be found close
to and on occasion within the circle. Stone circles are found throughout
England although they are concentrated in western areas, with particular
clusters in upland areas such as Bodmin and Dartmoor in the south-west and the
Lake District and the rest of Cumbria in the north-west. This distribution may
be more a reflection of present survival rather than an original pattern.
Where excavated they have been found to date from the Late Neolithic to the
Middle Bronze Age (c.2000-1240 BC). It is clear that they were carefully
designed and laid out, frequently exhibiting very regularly spaced stones, the
heights of which also appear to have been of some importance. We do not fully
understand the uses for which these monuments were originally constructed but
it is clear that they had considerable ritual importance for the societies
that used them. In many instances excavation has indicated that they provided
a focus for burials and the rituals that accompanied interment of the dead.
Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function, helping mark the
passage of time and seasons, this being indicated by the careful alignment of
stones to mark important solar or lunar events such as sunrise or sunset at
midsummer or midwinter. At other sites the spacing of individual circles
throughout the landscape has led to a suggestion that each one provided some
form of tribal gathering point for a specific social group. Concentric stone
circles comprise an arrangement of two or more stone rings set within one
another. The diameter of the outer ring may vary between 20 and 330 metres,
this ring comprising between 20 and 97 stones. They occur in clusters in
Wiltshire, Derbyshire and Cumbria with outliers in North Yorkshire and
Dartmoor. The best and most complex examples of this type are Stonehenge and
Avebury. Of the 250 or so stone circles identified in England only 15 are of
this type. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into
prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are worthy of

Despite limited antiquarian investigation of the central cairn Gunnerkeld
concentric stone circle survives in excellent condition and appears little

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Old Ser.' in , , Vol. IV, (1880), 539
Bowman, A., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Concentric Stone Circles, (1990)
RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)
SMR No. 1560, Cumbria SMR, Gunnerkeld Stone Circle, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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