Stone circle and funerary cairn 440m south west of Great Knott, Lacra


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009109

Date first listed: 25-Oct-1972

Date of most recent amendment: 26-Jul-1994


Ordnance survey map of Stone circle and funerary cairn 440m south west of Great Knott, Lacra
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Copeland (District Authority)

Parish: Whicham

National Grid Reference: SD 14923 80982


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 a combination of limited excavation of the monument and the loss of some of the circle's stones, this stone circle and funerary cairn 440m south west of Great Knott, Lacra, survives reasonably well. It is one of four closely spaced stone circles on the hillside - one of which has an associated stone avenue - and indicates the diversity in form of this class of monument and the importance of this area in prehistoric times.


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


The monument includes one of two small stone circles near Lacra and a centrally placed funerary cairn located on a hillside plateau overlooking the coastal plain of west Cumbria and the estuary of the River Duddon. It includes a circle of six granite boulders, some standing and some fallen, enclosing an area of approximately 14.7m in diameter. The stones are irregularly shaped and vary in height between 0.35m-0.95m. Limited excavation of the monument in 1947 located a stone socket hole and suggested the original circle consisted of eleven stones. Additionally a central funerary cairn of earth and stones c.9.7m in diameter and up to 0.6m high constructed upon the old land surface was discovered. A flint flake lay upon the top of this mound. In the north east sector of the circle, also lying on top of the mound, part of a ring of stones, each about 0.6m long and pointing towards the centre of the circle, was found. An earthfast stone presently protruding above the turf line in the north west sector of the circle represents a continuation of this ring of stones which measures c.4.8m in diameter. A layer of earth considerably reddened by fire and considerable amounts of ash wood charcoal were found during the excavation near the centre of the mound just above the old landsurface. Below the very centre of the mound, under some large stones, fragments of burnt bones were all that remained of the primary burial. An excavation trench was extended to the east of the stone circle. Here an arrangement of stones was discovered lying on the old landsurface, which is thought to form either part of a ring encircling the standing stones, or one of a heap of stones assembled at the four cardinal points of the circle to help in the construction of the circle.

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: 23734

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Waterhouse, J, The Stones Circles of Cumbria, (1986), 46-52
Dixon, J A, Fell, C I, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Some Bronze Age Burial Cairns At Lacra, Near Kirksanton, (1948), 1-22
Dixon, J A, Fell, C I, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Some Bronze Age Burial Cairns At Lacra, Near Kirksanton, (1948), 1-22
Bowman, A., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Small Stone Circles, (1990)

End of official listing