Gamelands embanked stone circle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011138

Date first listed: 26-Oct-1938

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Mar-1994


Ordnance survey map of Gamelands embanked stone circle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Eden (District Authority)

Parish: Orton

National Grid Reference: NY 64003 08164


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.

Gamelands embanked stone circle remains unencumbered by modern development and is a fine example of a large irregular stone circle. It is the only complete example of an embanked stone circle in Cumbria.


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


The monument is Gamelands embanked stone circle. It is located on gently sloping land immediately south of the foot of limestone upland known as Knott. The monument includes an oval enclosure of 40 large stones, all of which have fallen, and three smaller stones. All of the stones are Shap pink granite with the exception of one which is limestone. None exceed 0.9m in height and their circumferences at ground level vary between 1.9m and 3.8m. The stones are set into a slight bank approximately 2.5m wide and up to 0.2m high. The stone circle encloses an area measuring c.43m east-west by 38m north-south. The stones on the south side of the circle are on slightly higher land than elsewhere. There is an entrance 4m wide between two of these stones. This entrance overlooks land that falls away to the south-east. Limited antiquarian investigation within the circle located a sandstone slab, interpreted as the cover of a burial cist, and two pieces of worked flint. A drystone wall immediately to the south of the circle is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.

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: 23631

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Waterhouse, J, The Stones Circles of Cumbria, (1986), 140-2
Ferguson, R S, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Old Ser.' in Stone Circle at Gamelands, Bland Ho. Brow, Raisbeck, Orton, West, , Vol. VI, (1881), 183-5
Bowman,A., MPP Single Mon Class Description - Large Irregular Stone Circles, (1999)

End of official listing