Ancient Monuments

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Stone circle 410m SSW of Great Knott, Lacra

A Scheduled Monument in Whicham, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.2174 / 54°13'2"N

Longitude: -3.3048 / 3°18'17"W

OS Eastings: 315014.284833

OS Northings: 480970.357697

OS Grid: SD150809

Mapcode National: GBR 5MCN.9Y

Mapcode Global: WH722.68K6

Entry Name: Stone circle 410m SSW of Great Knott, Lacra

Scheduled Date: 25 October 1972

Last Amended: 26 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009110

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23735

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


The monument includes a partly mutilated stone circle at Lacra, located on a
gently sloping natural terrace on a hillside overlooking the coastal plain of
west Cumbria and the estuary of the River Duddon. It includes an arrangement
of four granite boulders, some standing and some fallen, three of which lie in
a segment of a semicircle with a fourth on the perimeter of the circle to the
north west. There are gaps on the circle's west and north east sides
indicating that some of the original stones are missing, but sufficient stones
remain to estimate that the stone circle enclosed an area of approximately
21m-24m in diameter. Limited excavation at the base of the three stones on the
monument's south east side in 1947 found that two of these stones had fallen
outwards, having originally been stood in a shallow socket hole and surrounded
by packing stones. The largest stone measured 1.5m long by 1m wide. An oyster
shell was found adjacent to one of the stones and a circular deposit of oak
charcoal was found close to another of the stones.

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. Large irregular
stone circles comprise a ring of at least 20 stone uprights. The diameters of
surviving examples range between 20 and 40 metres, although it is known that
larger examples, now destroyed, formerly existed. The stone uprights of this
type of circle tend to be more closely spaced than in other types of circle
and the height and positioning of uprights also appears not to have been as
important. They are widely distributed throughout England although in the
south they are confined largely to the west. Of the 250 or so stone circles
identified in England only 45 examples of large irregular circles are known.
As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric
ritual activity all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

Despite the loss of some of its stones, this large irregular stone circle at
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 another of
which has a central funerary cairn - and indicates the diversity in form of
this class of monument and the importance of this area in prehistoric times.

Source: Historic England


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, , Vol. XLVIII, (1948), 1-22

Source: Historic England

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