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Stone circle and funerary cairn 440m south west of Great Knott, Lacra

A Scheduled Monument in Whicham, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.2175 / 54°13'2"N

Longitude: -3.3062 / 3°18'22"W

OS Eastings: 314923.108408

OS Northings: 480981.835496

OS Grid: SD149809

Mapcode National: GBR 5MCN.0X

Mapcode Global: WH722.58W4

Entry Name: Stone circle and funerary cairn 440m south west of Great Knott, Lacra

Scheduled Date: 25 October 1972

Last Amended: 26 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009109

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23734

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Whicham

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Whicham St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle

Details

The monument includes one of two small stone circles near Lacra and a
centrally placed funerary cairn located on a hillside plateau overlooking the
coastal plain of west Cumbria and the estuary of the River Duddon. It includes
a circle of six granite boulders, some standing and some fallen, enclosing an
area of approximately 14.7m in diameter. The stones are irregularly shaped and
vary in height between 0.35m-0.95m. Limited excavation of the monument in 1947
located a stone socket hole and suggested the original circle consisted of
eleven stones. Additionally a central funerary cairn of earth and stones
c.9.7m in diameter and up to 0.6m high constructed upon the old land surface
was discovered. A flint flake lay upon the top of this mound. In the north
east sector of the circle, also lying on top of the mound, part of a ring of
stones, each about 0.6m long and pointing towards the centre of the circle,
was found. An earthfast stone presently protruding above the turf line in the
north west sector of the circle represents a continuation of this ring of
stones which measures c.4.8m in diameter. A layer of earth considerably
reddened by fire and considerable amounts of ash wood charcoal were found
during the excavation near the centre of the mound just above the old
landsurface. Below the very centre of the mound, under some large stones,
fragments of burnt bones were all that remained of the primary burial. An
excavation trench was extended to the east of the stone circle. Here an
arrangement of stones was discovered lying on the old landsurface, which is
thought to form either part of a ring encircling the standing stones, or one
of a heap of stones assembled at the four cardinal points of the circle to
help in the construction of the circle.

MAP EXTRACT
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
preservation.

Despite a combination of limited excavation of the monument and the loss of
some of the circle's stones, this stone circle and funerary cairn 440m south
west of Great Knott, Lacra, survives reasonably well. It is one of four
closely spaced stone circles on the hillside - one of which has an associated
stone avenue - and indicates the diversity in form of this class of monument
and the importance of this area in prehistoric times.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Waterhouse, J, The Stones Circles of Cumbria, (1986), 46-52
Dixon, J A, Fell, C I, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Some Bronze Age Burial Cairns At Lacra, Near Kirksanton, (1948), 1-22
Dixon, J A, Fell, C I, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Some Bronze Age Burial Cairns At Lacra, Near Kirksanton, (1948), 1-22
Other
Bowman, A., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Small Stone Circles, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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