Ancient Monuments

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Hoarstone stone circle and two round cairns 400m north west of Holly Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Worthen with Shelve, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.5929 / 52°35'34"N

Longitude: -2.9993 / 2°59'57"W

OS Eastings: 332403.643761

OS Northings: 299923.236459

OS Grid: SO324999

Mapcode National: GBR B6.9N8K

Mapcode Global: WH8C8.W3Y1

Entry Name: Hoarstone stone circle and two round cairns 400m north west of Holly Cottage

Scheduled Date: 17 February 1927

Last Amended: 10 March 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011022

English Heritage Legacy ID: 19180

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Worthen with Shelve

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Middleton-in-Chirbury

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


The monument includes Hoarstone or Marsh Pool stone circle and two small round
cairns situated on level ground below Stapeley Hill. The circle includes 38
dolerite stones arranged in a circle with a diameter of 22m. The stones range
in height from just protruding through the turf to 0.9m high. A single large
boulder 1.2m high stands in the centre of the circle surrounded by a slight
hollow 2m in diameter and 0.1m deep. The interior of the circle appears to be
raised slightly, up to 0.1m, above the surrounding natural ground level.
To the north of the circle are two small round cairns; the more westerly lies
approximately 30m from the centre of the circle, the more easterly 32m. Both
are visible as low earth and stone mounds 5m in diameter and up to 0.3m high.
Although no longer visible as a surface feature each cairn will be surrounded
by a ditch 1m wide from which material for the construction of the mound would
have been quarried.
A metal post set in concrete on the east edge of the circle is excluded
from the scheduling though the ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

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 regular
stone circles comprise an arrangement of between one and three rings of from
20 to 30 upright stones. The diameters of these circles range between 20 and
30 metres. They are presently known only in upland contexts, the majority
being located in Devon and Cornwall or Cumbria. Of the 250 or so stone circles
identified in England only 28 are examples of this type. As a rare monument
type which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity all
surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

The Hoarstone stone circle survives well and is a good example of its class.
It will retain valuable archaeological information contributing to an
understanding of the social structure and religious beliefs of the prehistoric
community for which it formed a significant focus. The two small cairns to the
north of the circle appear undisturbed and will contain archaeological
evidence relating to their construction and subsequent use. Environmental
material relating to the landscape in which the cairns were constructed will
survive sealed on the old land surface beneath the cairn mounds.

Source: Historic England

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