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Two stone circles, a stone avenue and a stone alignment at Great Knott, Lacra

A Scheduled Monument in Whicham, Cumbria

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Coordinates

Latitude: 54.2196 / 54°13'10"N

Longitude: -3.3038 / 3°18'13"W

OS Eastings: 315082.220767

OS Northings: 481214.137255

OS Grid: SD150812

Mapcode National: GBR 5MCN.J4

Mapcode Global: WH722.760J

Entry Name: Two stone circles, a stone avenue and a stone alignment at Great Knott, Lacra

Scheduled Date: 25 October 1972

Last Amended: 26 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009111

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23736

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 two stone circles, a stone avenue and a stone alignment
located on the gently sloping hillside of Great Knott, Lacra, overlooking the
coastal plain of west Cumbria and the estuary of the River Duddon. It is
divided into two separate areas. The northern area includes a concentric stone
circle which has an inner circle of eight granite boulders in an elliptical
arrangement measuring 18.2m north-south by 15.5m east-west, within which there
is a large flat central stone measuring 2.4m by 1.8m which is considered to be
the capstone of a cist or burial chamber. On the south east side of the inner
circle are the remains of an outer circle comprising four stones arranged in
such a way as to suggest this outer circle measured approximately 28.4m
north-south by 25.7m east-west. Immediately to the west of the concentric
stone circle there are the remains of a small stone circle which has five
stones enclosing an area of approximately 5m in diameter, within which, as in
the case of the concentric stone circle, there is a central stone larger than
the stones forming the circle. There are gaps in both the concentric stone
circle and the small stone circle, indicating that some of the original stones
may have been removed. On the eastern side of the concentric stone circle
there is a stone alignment which includes ten stones, some arranged in pairs,
running for c.46m ENE from the circle. About 35m to the south west of the
concentric stone circle, in a separate protected area, there are traces of a
stone avenue, now with many of the stones on its northern side missing. A
survey undertaken in 1947 indicates this avenue averaged c.15m wide and, in
its present form, extends in a WSW direction for approximately 80m.
In 1947 limited excavation between the northernmost of the stones forming the
inner circle of the concentric stone circle located a broken inverted collared
urn containing the remains of a human cremation with oak and hazel charcoal in
and around it.

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.2000-1240 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. Concentric stone
circles comprise an arrangement of two or more stone rings set within one
another. The diameter of the outer ring may vary between 20 and 330 metres,
this ring comprising between 20 and 97 stones. They occur in clusters in
Wiltshire, Derbyshire and Cumbria with outliers in North Yorkshire and
Dartmoor. The best and most complex examples of this type are Stonehenge and
Avebury. Of the 250 or so stone circles identified in England only 15 are of
this type. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into
prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are worthy of
preservation.

A small stone circle comprises a regular or irregular ring of between 7 and 16
stones with a diameter of between 4m and 20m. 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. There are
over 100 examples of small stone circles and, as with concentric stone
circles, they are a rare monument type which provide an important insight into
prehistoric ritual activity.
Stone alignments take the form of stones set in a single line or in two or
more parallel lines up to several metres in length. They are often sited close
to prehistoric burial monuments and are therefore considered to have had an
important ceremonial function. As such they provide rare evidence of
ceremonial and ritual practices during the Late Neolithic period to the Middle
Bronze Age (c.2500-1000 BC).
An avenue is a more or less parallel sided strip of ground up to about 30m
wide with open terminals and side-edges defined by lines of stones, timber
uprights or a low earthwork. They are generally either short and straight
or long and sinuous. Often they link stone circles with watercourses, but
there are exceptions. All avenues occur within groups of Late Neolithic and
Early Bronze Age ceremonial monuments and are considered to have had an
important ceremonial function. Like stone alignments, stone avenues provide
rare evidence of the ceremonial and ritual practices of their period.
Despite the loss of some of the monument's stones, the two stone circles, a
stone avenue and a stone alignment at Great Knott, Lacra, survive reasonably
well. There are other stone circles in the vicinity, one of which contains a
central funerary cairn, and together they illustrate the diversity of monument
classes to be found here and the importance of this area in prehistoric times.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
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 - Concentric Stone Circles, (1990)
Bowman, A., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Small Stone Circles, (1990)
Bowman, A., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Small Stone Circles, (1990)
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Avenues, (1989)
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Stone Alignment, (1987)

Source: Historic England

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