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Druid's Altar four poster stone circle

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Druid's Altar four poster stone circle

List entry Number: 1008773

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Craven

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Threshfield

National Park: YORKSHIRE DALES

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 24-Nov-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Aug-1994

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 24468

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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. A four-poster stone circle is a rectangular or sub-rectangular setting of four or five stones, which are, or were once, upright. The corner stones of the rectangle usually lie on the perimeter of a circle. They are confined to high ground, clustered on Exmoor, the North Yorkshire Moors, Northumberland, Cumbria and West Yorkshire with outliers in Shropshire and Derbyshire. Of the 250 or so stone circles identified in England only 22 are examples of four-posters. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

Although the monument has been disturbed at some time it remains in reasonably good condition, preserving three limestone uprights and two recumbent stones.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument known as the Druid's Altar lies south of the Lantern Holes on Malham Moor and includes a turf covered earth and stone mound approximately 1m high which measures 13.5m by 10m. The long axis lies NNE/SSW. The mound has been mutilated by robbing, especially on the south. There are three standing stones situated centrally which protrude through the remains of the mound and reach a height of 1m-1.3m. A fourth stone lies prostrate in the centre of these and another measuring 1.5m by 0.9m on the south west margin. The monument was described by the antiquarian Speight in 1892 as a `round stone and earth mound about 150ft in circumference and 3ft high, and was formally surrounded by a circle of upright stones, only three of which are now left standing'. The name Druid's Altar derives from the inclusion at one time of a flat stone resting across the top of two standing stones. This is said to have been destroyed many years ago and no reliable record of it remains.

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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Burl, A, 'Stone Circles of the British Isles.' in Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1977), 327/349
Feather, S W, Manby, T G, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal.' in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, , Vol. 42, (1970), 397
Raistrick, A , 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in The Bronze Age in West Yorkshire, , Vol. 29, (1929), 356
Speight, H, 'Craven and the North-West Highlands.' in Craven And The North-West Highlands, (1892), 323

National Grid Reference: SD 94947 65271

Map

Map
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1008773 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 22-Nov-2017 at 09:38:57.

End of official listing