Ancient Monuments

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Broomrigg A: large irregular stone circle and associated stone alignment in Broomrigg Plantation, 820m south east of Street House

A Scheduled Monument in Ainstable, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.8133 / 54°48'47"N

Longitude: -2.7049 / 2°42'17"W

OS Eastings: 354797.133083

OS Northings: 546717.234037

OS Grid: NY547467

Mapcode National: GBR 9DKS.6C

Mapcode Global: WH80L.F86X

Entry Name: Broomrigg A: large irregular stone circle and associated stone alignment in Broomrigg Plantation, 820m south east of Street House

Scheduled Date: 26 May 1960

Last Amended: 20 March 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015273

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27737

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Ainstable

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Ainstable St Michael

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a large irregular stone circle known as Broomrigg A
together with an associated double stone alignment. It is located in Broomrigg
Plantation and includes a circle of red sandstone stones originally of
approximately 55m in diameter of which only the north western arc of stones
still remain largely in situ. Of these surviving stones three stand between
0.5m-0.9m high; elsewhere stones have either been removed or are loose and
their positions are no longer thought to reflect their original location. To
the north west of the stone circle there is a double stone alignment c.35m
wide each alignment having three stones. The stones forming the western
alignment appear to be in situ with the farthest stone being c.112m from the
edge of the circle; the eastern stone alignment, however, may have been
disturbed as the middle stone is now located slightly out of alignment
adjacent to a nearby drystone wall.
Limited excavation of the circle by Hodgson in 1950 found that the socket
holes for the stones had been carefully made and packed with small stones. The
stones of the circle were set c.0.25m into the ground.
A modern drystone wall crossing the monument is excluded from the scheduling,
althought the ground beneath 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 irregular
stone circles comprise a ring of at least 20 stone uprights. The diameters of
surviving examples range between 20 and 40 metres, although it is known that
larger examples, now destroyed, formerly existed. The stone uprights of this
type of circle tend to be more closely spaced than in other types of circle
and the height and positioning of uprights also appears not to have been as
important. They are widely distributed throughout England although in the
south they are confined largely to the west. Of the 250 or so stone circles
identified in England only 45 examples of large irregular circles are known.
As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric
ritual activity all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

Stone alignments consist of upright stones set in a single line or two or more
parallel lines, up to several hundred metres in length. They are often sited
close to prehistoric burial monuments and are therefore considered to have had
an important ceremonial function. Stone alignments were being constructed and
used from the Late Neolithic period to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2500-1000 BC)
and provide rare evidence of ceremonial and ritual practices during this
Despite the loss of some of the circle's stones, Broomrigg A large irregular
stone circle survives reasonably well and is a rare example in north west
England of a stone circle with an associated double stone alignment. It is one
of a number of prehistoric monuments within Broomrigg Plantation including
small and large stone circles, burial cairns, hut circles and standing stones,
and thus indicates the importance of this area in prehistoric times and the
diversity of monument types to be found here. It will contribute to any
further study of the ceremonial function of stone circles, stone alignments,
and other spatially associated monuments in the area.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Waterhouse, J, The Stones Circles of Cumbria, (1986), 107-9
Waterhouse, J, The Stones Circles of Cumbria, (1986), 107-10
Hodgson, K, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Further Excavations at Broomrigg, Ainstable, , Vol. LII, (1952), 5-8
Hodgson, K S, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Notes on Stone Circles at Broomrigg, Grey Yauds etc, , Vol. XXXIV, (1934), 77-8
Darvill,T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Stone Alignment, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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