Ancient Monuments

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Arkle Beck stone circle

A Scheduled Monument in Arkengarthdale, North Yorkshire

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Latitude: 54.4639 / 54°27'50"N

Longitude: -2.069 / 2°4'8"W

OS Eastings: 395626.117702

OS Northings: 507617.586478

OS Grid: NY956076

Mapcode National: GBR FJZT.WL

Mapcode Global: WHB4X.6216

Entry Name: Arkle Beck stone circle

Scheduled Date: 15 August 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008775

English Heritage Legacy ID: 24470

County: North Yorkshire

Civil Parish: Arkengarthdale

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): North Yorkshire


This remote site includes an incomplete circle of gritstone slabs at the
head of Arkle Beck at Mudbeckside and overlooks the upper reaches of
Arkengarthdale. The circle has an overall diameter of 21.5m. Only four of the
slabs forming the circle remain upright; the remainder are now recumbent. The
upright stones range in height between 0.47m and 0.57m and are between 0.42m
and 0.62m wide and all are approximately 0.08m thick. The upright on the
south west side of the monument bears a well defined cup mark with a 0.05m
diameter in the top right hand corner of the inner-face. At the southern
extent of the circle is a hollow approximately 0.8m across indicating the
position of a now missing circle stone.
At the south east edge of the circle are a group of now recumbent stones.
One of these stones which measures approximately 0.88m by 0.55m by 0.13m thick
lies partially overlapping another of comparable dimensions. Included also in
this recumbent group is the largest of the stones measuring 1.25m by 0.46m by
0.09m. Dispersed amongst these are a number of smaller stones.
The stones are almost completely obscured by the thick clumps of reeds
surrounding them.

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 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. A small stone
circle comprises a regular or irregular ring of between 7 and 16 stones with a
diameter of between 4 and 20 metres. They are widespread throughout England
although clusters are found on Dartmoor, the North Yorkshire Moors, in the
Peak District and in the uplands of Cumbria and Northumberland. Of the 250 or
so stone circles identified in England, over 100 are examples of small stone
circles. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into
prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are worthy of

Arkle Beck stone circle is a well preserved monument with interesting features
including the well defined cup mark. Some degree of disturbance has taken
place but below surface deposits will remain largely intact.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Laurie, T C, Early Land Division and Settlement in Swaledale., (1985)

Source: Historic England

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