Ancient Monuments

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Round cairn including prehistoric carved stone 620m north west of Glassonby

A Scheduled Monument in Glassonby, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.7473 / 54°44'50"N

Longitude: -2.6652 / 2°39'54"W

OS Eastings: 357275.09665

OS Northings: 539348.599599

OS Grid: NY572393

Mapcode National: GBR 9FTK.S0

Mapcode Global: WH91Y.1Y31

Entry Name: Round cairn including prehistoric carved stone 620m north west of Glassonby

Scheduled Date: 27 October 1967

Last Amended: 24 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012824

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23771

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Glassonby

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Addingham St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a partly mutilated round cairn and a prehistoric carved
stone located on gently sloping land 620m north west of Glassonby. The cairn
is a largely grass covered irregularly-shaped mound of cobbles up to 0.5m high
and measuring c.30.5m - 33.5m in diameter. On the summit of the mound there is
a circle of 30 larger stones up to 0.92m high which are arranged in an oval
measuring 15.7m by 14m. One of the stones forming the circle displays
prehistoric rock art carving depicting a complex design of concentric circles,
semi-ovoids, chevrons and other linear features which link it with traditions
outside Cumbria. In 1875 a sandstone block decorated with spiral or concentric
circles was found amongst the stones forming the circle but subsequently lost.
Limited excavation of the cairn by Collingwood in 1900 revealed that the large
stones of the circle were originally covered by the mound and were only
revealed on removal of the cobbles from which the mound was constructed.
Within the circle were several features including a previously robbed cist or
rectangular pit dug into the old landsurface and lined with red sandstone
slabs and a small area of charcoal. A bead made of light blue transparent
glass decorated with a wavy line of opaque white was found within the circle.
Just outside the circle of stones, on the south east side, the excavation
located an intact inverted collared urn decorated with six lines of incised
marks and containing the cremated bones of a male. A second cremation, also
found just outside the circle of stones, consisted of a small hole dug into
the old landsurface and filled with the burnt bones of a youth or female.

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.

Prehistoric rock art is especially common in the north of England. The most
common form of decoration is the `cup and ring' marking where expanses of
small cup-like hollows are pecked into the surface of the rock. These cups may
be surrounded by one or more `rings' and other shapes and patterns also occur.
These carvings date to the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age periods (2800-c.500
BC) and provide one of our most important insights into prehistoric 'art'. The
exact meaning of the designs remains unknown, but they may be interpreted as
sacred or religious symbols. Frequently they are found close to contemporary
burial monuments and the symbols are also found on portable stones placed
directly next to burials or incorporated in burial mounds. All positively
identified prehistoric rock art sites exhibiting a significant group of
designs will normally be identified as nationally important.
Despite a combination of limited excavation and plough damage to the edges of
the monument, the round cairn 620m north west of Glassonby survives reasonably
well. This excavation located human remains, a glass bead and pottery, and
further evidence of grave goods will exist within the mound and upon the old
landsurface beneath. Additionally the monument is a rare example in Cumbria of
a site displaying in-situ prehistoric rock art.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beckensall, S, Cumbrian Prehistoric Rock Art: Symbols, Monument & Landscapes, (1992), 16-19
Beckensall, S, Cumbrian Prehistoric Rock Art: Symbols, Monument & Landscapes, (1992), 16-19
Waterhouse, J, The Stones Circles of Cumbria, (1986), 105-6
Barnes, H, Turner, W, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in On The Bones From Grayson-lands Tumulus, Glassonby, , Vol. 1, (1901), 300-302
Collingwood, W G, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Tumulus at Grayson-Lands, Glassonby, Cumberland, , Vol. 1, (1901), 295-99

Source: Historic England

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