Ancient Monuments

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Small stone circle on Delf Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Briercliffe, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.7998 / 53°47'59"N

Longitude: -2.1523 / 2°9'8"W

OS Eastings: 390064.257328

OS Northings: 433731.957894

OS Grid: SD900337

Mapcode National: GBR FSDH.TM

Mapcode Global: WHB7Y.XR8C

Entry Name: Small stone circle on Delf Hill

Scheduled Date: 12 November 1928

Last Amended: 21 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008916

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23719

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Briercliffe

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire


The monument includes a small stone circle located on enclosed moorland
approximately 80m east of the summit of Delf Hill. It includes a circle of
seven stones, some standing and some fallen, which has an external diameter of
7m. The tallest stone stands up to 0.5m high. Within the circle is a partly
mutilated central cairn measuring approximately 2.4m in diameter and 0.2m high
which is surrounded by a shallow ditch. Limited antiquarian investigation of
the central cairn in 1842 found it to have been used for funerary purposes and
located three unglazed urns together with human remains and flint arrowheads.

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

Despite limited antiquarian investigation of the cairn at the monument's
centre, the small stone circle on Delf Hill survives reasonably well. This
investigation located human remains together with pottery and flint tools, and
further evidence of interments and grave goods will exist within the cairn
encircled by the stone circle.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Spencer, , 'Gentleman's Magazine Library' in Gentleman's Magazine Library (Archaeology), part 1, (1842), 166
Bowman, A., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Small Stone Circles, (1990)
FMW Report, Capstick, B., SAM Report, (1988)
SMR No. 267, Lancs SMR, Middle Edge C, Delf Hill, Extwistle Moor, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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