Ancient Monuments

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The Goatstones stone circle, 280m south west of Ravensheugh Crags

A Scheduled Monument in Wark, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.0666 / 55°3'59"N

Longitude: -2.2687 / 2°16'7"W

OS Eastings: 382933.681339

OS Northings: 574713.752877

OS Grid: NY829747

Mapcode National: GBR D9LV.MK

Mapcode Global: WHB1Q.3XX7

Entry Name: The Goatstones stone circle, 280m south west of Ravensheugh Crags

Scheduled Date: 22 August 1935

Last Amended: 14 April 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008566

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25065

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Wark

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Wark St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the remains of a four poster stone circle situated on a
small knoll at the south west end of Ravensheugh Crags. It is formed of four
squat stones set in a 4m square. The stones are graded in height, the tallest
on the WSW side being 0.8m high and the smallest on the ESE side is 0.4m high.
The latter stone is decorated with cup marks or small depressions pecked out
of the rock, a well known form of prehistoric rock art in Northumberland.
There are 13 cup marks arranged on the flat top of the stone and they range in
size from 4cm to 8cm in diameter. Within the circle there are traces of a low
mound; this is thought to be the remains of a stone cairn which predates the
construction of the stone circle and by analogy elsewhere may have covered
Bronze Age burials.

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.2400-1000 BC). It is clear that they were designed and
laid out carefully, 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. A four-poster
stone circle is a rectangular or sub-rectangular setting of four or five
stones, which are, or were once, upright. The corner stones of the rectangle
usually lie on the perimeter of a circle. They are confined to high ground,
clustered on Exmoor, the North Yorkshire Moors, Northumberland, Cumbria and
West Yorkshire with outliers in Shropshire and Derbyshire. Of the 250 or so
stone circles identified in England only 22 are examples of four-posters. As a
rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual
activity all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

The four poster stone circle near Ravensheugh Crags is very well preserved.
Additionally, it is the only recorded example to bear cup marks. The re-use of
an earlier burial monument is unusual. Study of the site will provide
information on changing burial and ritual practices in the later prehistoric

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Northumberland's Prehistoric Rock Carvings: A Mystery Explained , (1983), 54 244
Burl, A, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1977)
NY 87 NW 16,

Source: Historic England

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