Ancient Monuments

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Ring cairn north-west of Cattle Howe

A Scheduled Monument in Orton, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.4829 / 54°28'58"N

Longitude: -2.5907 / 2°35'26"W

OS Eastings: 361822.469682

OS Northings: 509884.867311

OS Grid: NY618098

Mapcode National: GBR BJBL.XS

Mapcode Global: WH93B.5LK6

Entry Name: Ring cairn north-west of Cattle Howe

Scheduled Date: 8 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011157

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23627

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 a ring cairn located on the western edge of a small limestone
scar north-west of Cattle Howe. It includes a ring bank of largely turf-
covered limestone rubble 3m-4m wide and up to 0.5m high that has been
mutilated on its west side by quarrying. The ring bank has external
measurements of 18m by 12.3m and encloses a slightly oval internal area
measuring 10m by 9m within which there is a granite boulder in the north-east

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

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of
stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may
be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small
uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of
England and are mostly discovered and authenticated by fieldwork and ground
level survey, although a few are large enough to be visible on aerial
photographs. They often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples.
Occasionally they lie within round barrow cemeteries. Ring cairns are
interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact
nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has
revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and
pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial
rituals. Many areas of upland have not yet been surveyed in detail and the
number of ring cairns in England is not accurately known. However, available
evidence indicates a population of between 250 and 500 examples. As a
relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form,
all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological
deposits are considered worthy of preservation.

Despite removal of the ring bank on the monument's west side by quarrying, the
ring cairn north-west of Cattle Howe survives reasonably well. It is
unexcavated and will retain undisturbed archaeological deposits within the
remaining enclosure bank and interior which together will facilitate a greater
understanding of the nature of the rituals undertaken at such sites.

Source: Historic England


Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Ring Cairns, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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