Stone circle 410m SSW of Great Knott, Lacra


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009110

Date first listed: 25-Oct-1972

Date of most recent amendment: 26-Jul-1994


Ordnance survey map of Stone circle 410m SSW 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 15014 80970


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. Large irregular stone circles comprise a ring of at least 20 stone uprights. The diameters of surviving examples range between 20 and 40 metres, although it is known that larger examples, now destroyed, formerly existed. The stone uprights of this type of circle tend to be more closely spaced than in other types of circle and the height and positioning of uprights also appears not to have been as important. They are widely distributed throughout England although in the south they are confined largely to the west. Of the 250 or so stone circles identified in England only 45 examples of large irregular circles are known. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

Despite the loss of some of its stones, this large irregular stone circle at 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 another of which has a central funerary cairn - 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 a partly mutilated stone circle at Lacra, located on a gently sloping natural terrace on a hillside overlooking the coastal plain of west Cumbria and the estuary of the River Duddon. It includes an arrangement of four granite boulders, some standing and some fallen, three of which lie in a segment of a semicircle with a fourth on the perimeter of the circle to the north west. There are gaps on the circle's west and north east sides indicating that some of the original stones are missing, but sufficient stones remain to estimate that the stone circle enclosed an area of approximately 21m-24m in diameter. Limited excavation at the base of the three stones on the monument's south east side in 1947 found that two of these stones had fallen outwards, having originally been stood in a shallow socket hole and surrounded by packing stones. The largest stone measured 1.5m long by 1m wide. An oyster shell was found adjacent to one of the stones and a circular deposit of oak charcoal was found close to another of the stones.

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: 23735

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, , Vol. XLVIII, (1948), 1-22

End of official listing