Stone circle, ring cairn and two round cairns on Cheetham Close


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


Ordnance survey map of Stone circle, ring cairn and two round cairns on Cheetham Close
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Blackburn with Darwen (Unitary Authority)
North Turton
Bolton (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SD 71654 15859

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.

Ring cairns are interpreted as Bronze Age ritual monuments. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation of some ring cairns has indicated pits and cairns, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial rituals. As a relatively rare class of monument exhibiting considerable variation in form, all positively identified examples retaining significant archaeological deposits are considered worthy of preservation. Round cairns are prehistoric funerary monuments also dating to the Bronze Age and were constructed as stone mounds covering single or multiple burials. These burials may be placed within the mound in stone-lined compartments called cists. However, clearance cairns, built with stone gathered from the surrounding landscape to improve its use for agriculture are also a common Bronze Age feature on upland landscapes, and without excavation it may be impossible to determine which cairns contain burials. Round cairns have considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type and provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisation amongst early prehistoric communities. Despite some antiquarian disturbance, the stone circle, ring cairn and two round cairns on Cheetham Close survive reasonably well and remain unencumbered by modern development. Together these individual monuments represent evidence of management and exploitation of the Bronze Age landscape and indicate the importance of this area in prehistoric times and the diversity of monument classes to be found here.


The monument includes a small stone circle with two outlying stones, a ring cairn containing two small cairns within its enclosure, and two small round cairns. It is situated at the north east edge of a moorland plateau known as Cheetham Close and commands extensive views in every direction but the south. The stone circle is slightly oval in plan, measures approximately 18m by 16m, and has ten stones forming the circle, some of which are upstanding and some of which have fallen. There is an upstanding outlying stone a short distance to the south of the stone circle and a second outlying stone, now reduced to an earthfast stump, approximately 35m to the south east of the circle. A short distance to the south east of the upstanding outlying stone there is a ring cairn located on slightly higher ground. It consists of a roughly circular low earth and rubble bank about 1.75m wide and about 23.5m in diameter with traces of a gritstone kerb both externally and internally. There is an entrance c.1m wide in the north east quadrant which is flanked by thicker sections of bank. The enclosed area within the bank is paved with cobbles and at the centre there is a cairn measuring 4.5m in diameter and 0.25m high. A smaller cairn 2m in diameter and 0.1m high lies in the ring cairn's north east quadrant. To the north east of the stone circle there is a slightly oval round cairn measuring 5m by 4m and 0.3m high and some 28m to the south east of the ring cairn there is a smaller round cairn measuring 2m in diameter and up to 0.3m high. During limited investigation of the northern round cairn in 1958 three flint arrowheads were recovered from the surrounding peat.

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.

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Books and journals
Dryden, H, British Burial Places near Bolton Co Lancs, (1850)
Dawes, M, 'Trans Hist Soc Lancs & Chesh' in British Burial Places Near Bolton Co Lancaster, , Vol. 4, (1852), 130-2
Fletcher, M, 'Greater Manchester Archaeological Journal' in A Bronze Age Complex On Cheetham Close, Turton: A New Survey, , Vol. 1, (1985), 1-12
Fletcher, M, 'Gt Manchester Archaeological Journal' in The Bronze Age Complex on Cheetham Close, Turton, (1985), 1-12
Fletcher, M, 'Gt Manchester Archaeological Journal' in The Bronze Age Complex on Cheetham Close, Turton, (1985), 12
French, G J, 'Trans Lancs & Chesh Antiq Soc' in The Stone Circle on Cheetham's Close, , Vol. 11, (1893), 154-6
Greenhalgh, T , 'Journal Brit Arch Assos' in Note on Druidical or Stone Circle on Cheetham Close, Turton, , Vol. 36, (1880), 443-4
Greenhalgh, T, 'Journal British Arch Assoc' in Druidical Circle in the Township of Turton, Bolton-le-Moors, , Vol. 27, (1871), 524-6
Bowman, A., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Small Stone Circles, (1990)
Darvill, T, MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Bowl Barrows, (1989)
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Ring Cairns, (1989)


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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