Ancient Monuments

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Gamelands embanked stone circle

A Scheduled Monument in Orton, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.4676 / 54°28'3"N

Longitude: -2.5569 / 2°33'24"W

OS Eastings: 364003.017575

OS Northings: 508163.054065

OS Grid: NY640081

Mapcode National: GBR BJLS.78

Mapcode Global: WH93B.PYMZ

Entry Name: Gamelands embanked stone circle

Scheduled Date: 26 October 1938

Last Amended: 7 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011138

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23631

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Orton

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Orton with Tebay All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument is Gamelands embanked stone circle. It is located on gently
sloping land immediately south of the foot of limestone upland known as Knott.
The monument includes an oval enclosure of 40 large stones, all of which have
fallen, and three smaller stones. All of the stones are Shap pink granite with
the exception of one which is limestone. None exceed 0.9m in height and their
circumferences at ground level vary between 1.9m and 3.8m. The stones are set
into a slight bank approximately 2.5m wide and up to 0.2m high. The stone
circle encloses an area measuring c.43m east-west by 38m north-south. The
stones on the south side of the circle are on slightly higher land than
elsewhere. There is an entrance 4m wide between two of these stones. This
entrance overlooks land that falls away to the south-east. Limited antiquarian
investigation within the circle located a sandstone slab, interpreted as the
cover of a burial cist, and two pieces of worked flint.
A drystone wall immediately to the south of the circle is excluded from the
scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.

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.

Gamelands embanked stone circle remains unencumbered by modern development and
is a fine example of a large irregular stone circle. It is the only complete
example of an embanked stone circle in Cumbria.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Waterhouse, J, The Stones Circles of Cumbria, (1986), 140-2
Ferguson, R S, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Old Ser.' in Stone Circle at Gamelands, Bland Ho. Brow, Raisbeck, Orton, West, , Vol. VI, (1881), 183-5
Bowman,A., MPP Single Mon Class Description - Large Irregular Stone Circles, (1999)

Source: Historic England

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