Ancient Monuments

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Shap large regular stone circle

A Scheduled Monument in Shap, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.5132 / 54°30'47"N

Longitude: -2.6687 / 2°40'7"W

OS Eastings: 356805.571794

OS Northings: 513301.917717

OS Grid: NY568133

Mapcode National: GBR 9JT7.1X

Mapcode Global: WH81Y.ZTCH

Entry Name: Shap large regular stone circle

Scheduled Date: 29 September 1949

Last Amended: 7 February 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011639

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22498

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Shap

Built-Up Area: Shap

Traditional County: Westmorland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Shap with Swindale St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument is Shap stone circle. It measures c.24m diameter and includes 6
fallen rounded pink granite boulders, measuring between 1.5m - 2m long and
4.8m - 5.4m in width, and 11 smaller rounded granite stones lying between and
adjacent to the larger stones. Only the western half of the stone circle is
now visible; the eastern half extends under the adjacent railway embankment.
The railway embankment and fence are excluded from the scheduling although
the ground beneath these features 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 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.

Despite being partially covered by a railway embankment Shap large regular
stone circle survives reasonably well. It lies close to other prehistoric
monuments - notably Shap stone alignment and Skellaw Hill bowl barrow, and
thus indicates the importance of this area in prehistoric times and the
diversity of monument classes to be found here. The monument will contribute
to the study of the ceremonial function and date of large regular stone
circles and other spatially associated monuments.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Burn, , History of Westmorland, (1777)
Camden, W, Britannia, (1586)
Clare, T, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc' in Recent Work On The Shap Avenue, , Vol. LXXVIII, (1978), 5-16
Bowman, A, MPP Single Monument Class Description - Large Reg Stone Circle, (1990)
RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)
SMR No. 1568, Cumbria SMR, Shap Standing Stone and Stone Circle, (1985)

Source: Historic England

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