Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Round cairn on Dunmail Raise

A Scheduled Monument in St John's Castlerigg and Wythburn, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.4963 / 54°29'46"N

Longitude: -3.0402 / 3°2'24"W

OS Eastings: 332725.522433

OS Northings: 511711.002598

OS Grid: NY327117

Mapcode National: GBR 7J6F.LZ

Mapcode Global: WH81Z.87JY

Entry Name: Round cairn on Dunmail Raise

Scheduled Date: 6 November 1970

Last Amended: 13 October 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011353

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22556

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: St John's Castlerigg and Wythburn

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Grasmere St Oswald

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument is a round cairn located at the summit of Dunmail Raise on the
central reservation of a stretch of dual carriageway of the A591. It includes
a conical mound of stones up to 4m high, with maximum dimensions of 18.5m by
15.5m, which sits on a low lichen-covered oval platform of stones up to 0.5m
high with maximum dimensions of 23m by 20.5m.
According to local tradition the cairn was built either as a tumulus for
Dunmail, last king of Cumbria, or as a marker for the battlefield of Dunmail
and Edmund, the Saxon king, in 934 AD.

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

Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments dating to the Bronze Age
(c.2000-700 BC). They were constructed as stone mounds covering single or
multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined
compartments called cists. In some cases the cairn was surrounded by a ditch.
Often occupying prominent locations, cairns are a major visual element in the
modern landscape. They are a relatively common feature of the uplands and are
the stone equivalent of the earthen round barrows of the lowlands. Their
considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide
important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation
amongst early prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of
their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered
worthy of protection.

Despite 19th century disturbance to the monument caused by road improvements,
the round cairn on Dunmail Raise survives reasonably well. It will retain
undisturbed archaeological deposits within the oval platform on which the
cairn stands and upon the old landsurface beneath.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Cumb Assn for Adv of Lit and Sci' in Cumb Assn for Adv of Lit and Sci, , Vol. 9, (), 60
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Fancy Barrows, (1988)
RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)
Saunders, A.D., AM Records Form, (1970)
SMR No. 1239, Cumbria SMR, Cairn on Dunmail Raise, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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