Ancient Monuments

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Shiel Knowe round cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Bewcastle, Cumbria

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Latitude: 55.1098 / 55°6'35"N

Longitude: -2.687 / 2°41'13"W

OS Eastings: 356270.330822

OS Northings: 579699.6182

OS Grid: NY562796

Mapcode National: GBR 99PC.23

Mapcode Global: WH7Z1.PTPN

Entry Name: Shiel Knowe round cairn

Scheduled Date: 24 May 1961

Last Amended: 22 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016395

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27796

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Bewcastle

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Bewcastle St Cuthbert

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes a round cairn located on the summit of a crescent-shaped
moranic ridge approximately 230m north east of the confluence of White Lyne
and The Gill. It includes a circular mound of stones, gravel and sand
measuring 10m in diameter and up to 0.5m high. Limited excavation by
Hodgson in 1939 found a stone lined cist containing a fragment of human bone,
evidence of cremation, and two nearly perfect decorated Bronze Age food
vessels. A smaller stone lined secondary cist situated to the south of the
primary burial contained an inverted food vessel. Close to this secondary cist
a cremation pit consisting of an oval hollow containing charcoal and human
bone was found.

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 limited excavation, Shiel Knowe round cairn survives reasonably well.
This excavation located human remains and pottery, and further evidence of
interments and grave goods will exist within the cairn and upon the old
landsurface beneath. The cairn lies close to other prehistoric monuments
around Bewcastle, thus indicating the importance of this area in prehistoric
times and the diversity of monument classes to be found here.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hodgson, K S, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser' in Some Excavations In The Bewcastle District, , Vol. XL, (1940), 154-62
Darvill,T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Bowl Barrows, (1988)

Source: Historic England

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