Ring cairn north-west of Cattle Howe


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011157

Date first listed: 08-Mar-1994


Ordnance survey map of Ring cairn north-west of Cattle Howe
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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 61822 09884


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

Reasons for Designation

A ring cairn is a prehistoric ritual monument comprising a circular bank of stones up to 20m in diameter surrounding a hollow central area. The bank may be kerbed on the inside, and sometimes on the outside as well, with small uprights or laid boulders. Ring cairns are found mainly in upland areas of England and are mostly discovered and authenticated by fieldwork and ground level survey, although a few are large enough to be visible on aerial photographs. They often occur in pairs or small groups of up to four examples. Occasionally they lie within round barrow cemeteries. Ring cairns are interpreted as ritual monuments of Early and Middle Bronze Age date. The exact nature of the rituals concerned is not fully understood, but excavation has revealed pits, some containing burials and others containing charcoal and pottery, taken to indicate feasting activities associated with the burial rituals. Many areas of upland have not yet been surveyed in detail and the number of ring cairns in England is not accurately known. However, available evidence indicates a population of between 250 and 500 examples. 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.

Despite removal of the ring bank on the monument's west side by quarrying, the ring cairn north-west of Cattle Howe survives reasonably well. It is unexcavated and will retain undisturbed archaeological deposits within the remaining enclosure bank and interior which together will facilitate a greater understanding of the nature of the rituals undertaken at such sites.


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


The monument is a ring cairn located on the western edge of a small limestone scar north-west of Cattle Howe. It includes a ring bank of largely turf- covered limestone rubble 3m-4m wide and up to 0.5m high that has been mutilated on its west side by quarrying. The ring bank has external measurements of 18m by 12.3m and encloses a slightly oval internal area measuring 10m by 9m within which there is a granite boulder in the north-east quadrant.

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: 23627

Legacy System: RSM


Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Ring Cairns, (1989)

End of official listing