Small stone circle on Delf Hill


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008916

Date first listed: 12-Nov-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Sep-1994


Ordnance survey map of Small stone circle on Delf Hill
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lancashire

District: Burnley (District Authority)

Parish: Briercliffe

National Grid Reference: SD 90064 33732


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 carefully designed and laid out, 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 small stone circle comprises a regular or irregular ring of between 7 and 16 stones with a diameter of between 4 and 20 metres. They are widespread throughout England although clusters are found on Dartmoor, the North Yorkshire Moors, in the Peak District and in the uplands of Cumbria and Northumberland. Of the 250 or so stone circles identified in England, over 100 are examples of small stone circles. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

Despite limited antiquarian investigation of the cairn at the monument's centre, the small stone circle on Delf Hill survives reasonably well. This investigation located human remains together with pottery and flint tools, and further evidence of interments and grave goods will exist within the cairn encircled by the stone circle.


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


The monument includes a small stone circle located on enclosed moorland approximately 80m east of the summit of Delf Hill. It includes a circle of seven stones, some standing and some fallen, which has an external diameter of 7m. The tallest stone stands up to 0.5m high. Within the circle is a partly mutilated central cairn measuring approximately 2.4m in diameter and 0.2m high which is surrounded by a shallow ditch. Limited antiquarian investigation of the central cairn in 1842 found it to have been used for funerary purposes and located three unglazed urns together with human remains and flint arrowheads.

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: 23719

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Spencer, , 'Gentleman's Magazine Library' in Gentleman's Magazine Library (Archaeology), part 1, (1842), 166
Bowman, A., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Small Stone Circles, (1990)
FMW Report, Capstick, B., SAM Report, (1988)
SMR No. 267, Lancs SMR, Middle Edge C, Delf Hill, Extwistle Moor, (1993)

End of official listing