Ancient Monuments

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Embanked stone circle known as Wet Withens, and adjacent cairn

A Scheduled Monument in Grindleford, Derbyshire

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Latitude: 53.3075 / 53°18'27"N

Longitude: -1.6631 / 1°39'47"W

OS Eastings: 422543.587256

OS Northings: 379006.522651

OS Grid: SK225790

Mapcode National: GBR JZT6.Q1

Mapcode Global: WHCCV.F486

Entry Name: Embanked stone circle known as Wet Withens, and adjacent cairn

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018480

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31233

County: Derbyshire

Civil Parish: Grindleford

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Eyam St Lawrence

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes a prehistoric stone circle set within an earthen bank
together with an adjacent cairn of substantial proportions. The circle and
cairn are located on gently shelving land on Eyam Moor, close to contemporary
cairnfields and related monuments.
The stone circle contains 10 or 11 orthostats (upright boulders) on the inner
edge of the bank. The stones range between 0.25m and 0.7m high although some
now lean inwards. If the original spacing of the stones was even, then
approximately 16 to 18 of them once stood in the ring: some of the missing
stones may still survive buried under tumble from the embankment. Most of the
standing stones now bear modern graffiti. The bank forms a sub-circular
earthwork with an internal diameter of 31m by 29.5m. It is between 2.5m and 3m
wide with an external diameter of 36.5m by 35.5m. It survives well and is
almost completely intact. This type of stone circle is known as an embanked
stone circle. At the centre of the circle is a scatter of stones which may
once have been a small cairn.
About 10m to the north of the circle stands a large cairn occupying a
commanding viewpoint to the north. Although much stone of the cairn still
remains, it has been badly mutilated by partial excavation, possibly as the
result of nearby quarrying activities during the 18th or 19th centuries, or by
unrecorded antiquarian excavations. The cairn is elongated and measures 27.5m
by 17.5m and stands about 1.1m high. Close to the centre of the cairn is a
single cup marked stone.
Although the cairn is interpreted as a prehistoric barrow its original type is
unclear due to later mutilation but its shape indicates a complex original
arrangement. It may have been constructed from two or more successive funerary
cairns or may have been a long barrow. Its size and position indicate that it
was of focal importance to ceremonial activities in the locality. Close to the
barrow and circle are 19th century quarry pits and spoil heaps to the north
The monument is in the care of the Secretary of State.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 3 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The East Moors in Derbyshire includes all the gritstone moors east of the
River Derwent. It covers an area of 105 sq km, of which around 63% is open
moorland and 37% is enclosed. As a result of recent and on-going
archaeological survey, the East Moors area is becoming one of the best
recorded upland areas in England. On the enclosed land the archaeological
remains are fragmentary, but survive sufficiently well to show that early
human activity extended beyond the confines of the open moors.
On the open moors there is significant and well-articulated evidence over
extensive areas for human exploitation of the gritstone uplands from the
Neolithic to the post-medieval periods. Bronze Age activity accounts for the
most intensive use of the moorlands. Evidence for it includes some of the
largest and best preserved field systems and cairnfields in northern England
as well settlement sites, numerous burial monuments, stone circles and other
ceremonial remains which, together, provide a detailed insight into life in
the Bronze Age. Also of importance is the well preserved and often visible
relationship between the remains of earlier and later periods since this
provides an insight into successive changes in land use through time.
A large number of the prehistoric sites on the moors, because of their rarity
in a national context, excellent state of preservation and inter-connections,
will be identified as nationally important.

Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising upright or recumbent
stones. Burial cairns may be found close to and on occasion within the circle.
These monuments are found throughout England although they are
concentrated in western areas with particular clusters in upland regions.
Where excavated they have been found to date from the late Neolithic to the
Middle Bronze Age (c.2,400-1,000 BC). 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 internment of the dead. As a rare monument type
which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity, all
surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation.
Wet Withens stone circle is one of a small number of embanked monuments
found in the Peak District. Its size, good condition and the close proximity
to a large funerary cairn of unusual size and architecture make the monument
a ceremonial complex of considerable importance. The cairn survives reasonably
well and, unusually for the Peak District, includes a cup marked rock.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 71-3
Barnatt, J. W., Highlow Hall and Eyam Moor ... Archaeological Survey 1994-5., 1995, unpublished survey archive

Source: Historic England

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