The Cockpit stone circle and seven adjacent clearance cairns, Moor Divock


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Eden (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NY 48270 22259

Reasons for Designation

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.

Clearance cairns are built with stones cleared from the surrounding landscape to improve its use for agriculture. Funerary cairns are also frequently found in cairnfields, although without excavation it may be impossible to determine which cairns contain burials. Clearance cairns began to be constructed from the Neolithic period (from c.3000 BC), although the majority of examples appear to be the result of field clearance which began during the earlier Bronze Age and continued into the later Bronze Age (2000-500 BC). The Cockpit is a good example of a large regular stone circle. The adjacent clearance cairns are also well preserved. These sites lie close to other prehistoric monuments on Moor Divock and Askham Fell and thus indicate the importance of this area in prehistoric times and the diversity of monument classes to be found here.


The monument includes The Cockpit stone circle and seven clearance cairns lying adjacent and north of it. It is located on Moor Divock on a slight rise in the landscape, overlooking the Ullswater valley and close to a natural ford crossing point of Elder Beck. It includes a circular kerbed stone bank 2.8m - 11.2m wide and up to 0.5m high which encloses an area approximately 27m in diameter. There are 27 standing and recumbent stones set largely into the internal face of this bank, thereby creating the stone circle. The tallest standing stone measures about 0.95m high and some of the recumbent stones are up to 1.9m in length. Within the eastern side of the stone circle, abutting the internal edge of the stone bank, is a 5m square foundation of stones. This is interpreted as an original element of the stone circle, although its exact function is as yet unknown. Beyond the southern and western perimeter of the stone circle there is an arc of five outlying stones each up to 1.5m high, four of which are standing. To the north of the stone circle there is an arc of four small clearance cairns - three of which are slightly oval-shaped and one circular. To the north of these are a further three clearance cairns.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Burl, A, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1976), 57-69
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell, (1992), 3-4
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell Survey Catalogue, (1992), 1-3,6-7
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell Survey Catalogue, (1992), 14-16
Quartermaine, J, Askham Fell Survey Catalogue, (1992), 14-15
Taylor, W, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc' in The Prehistoric Remains On Moor Divock, Near Ullswater, (1886), 323
Bowman, A., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Large Reg Stone Circles, (1990)
Darvill,T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Bowl Barrows, (1988)
Waterhouse, 1985,


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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