Ancient Monuments

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Large regular stone circle 240m ENE of Elva Plain

A Scheduled Monument in Setmurthy, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.6738 / 54°40'25"N

Longitude: -3.2777 / 3°16'39"W

OS Eastings: 317701.206897

OS Northings: 531715.521273

OS Grid: NY177317

Mapcode National: GBR 5GKD.5C

Mapcode Global: WH6ZR.MSDD

Entry Name: Large regular stone circle 240m ENE of Elva Plain

Scheduled Date: 26 August 1924

Last Amended: 20 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013385

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23793

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Setmurthy

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Binsey Team

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a large regular stone circle of 15 pink granite boulders
located on a relatively level terrace on the southern slopes of Elva Hill 240m
ENE of Elva Plain. The arrangement of stones forms an almost perfect circle
with an internal diameter of 33.5m. The 15 stones are all that remain visible
of an original number of about 30; of these, those in the north east quadrant
are level with the ground, one on the east side has recently become partly
buried, and the remainder of the stones have fallen, with the possible
exception of the stone due west of centre which stands to a height of 0.7m.

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 the loss of some of the stones which originally formed part of the
monument, the stone circle 240m ENE of Elva Plain survives reasonably well and
remains a good example of this class of monument. It will contribute to the
study of the ceremonial function and date of large regular stone circles.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Waterhouse, J, The Stones Circles of Cumbria, (1986), 75-6
Anderson, W D, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Elva Stone Circle, , Vol. XXIII, (1923), 29-33
MPP Single Mon Class Descriptions - Large Regular Stone Circles,
SMR No. 874, Cumbria SMR, Stone Circle on Elva Hill, (1984)

Source: Historic England

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