Shap large regular stone circle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011639

Date first listed: 29-Sep-1949

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Feb-1994


Ordnance survey map of Shap large regular 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: Shap

County: Cumbria

District: Eden (District Authority)

Parish: Shap Rural

National Grid Reference: NY 56806 13301

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 regular stone circles comprise an arrangement of between one and three rings of from 20 to 30 upright stones. The diameters of these circles range between 20 and 30 metres. They are presently known only in upland contexts, the majority being located in Devon and Cornwall or Cumbria. Of the 250 or so stone circles identified in England only 28 are examples of this type. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

Despite being partially covered by a railway embankment Shap large regular stone circle survives reasonably well. It lies close to other prehistoric monuments - notably Shap stone alignment and Skellaw Hill bowl barrow, and thus indicates the importance of this area in prehistoric times and the diversity of monument classes to be found here. The monument will contribute to the study of the ceremonial function and date of large regular stone circles and other spatially associated monuments.


The monument is Shap stone circle. It measures c.24m diameter and includes 6 fallen rounded pink granite boulders, measuring between 1.5m - 2m long and 4.8m - 5.4m in width, and 11 smaller rounded granite stones lying between and adjacent to the larger stones. Only the western half of the stone circle is now visible; the eastern half extends under the adjacent railway embankment. The railway embankment and fence are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features 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: 22498

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Burn, , History of Westmorland, (1777)
Camden, W, Britannia, (1586)
Clare, T, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc' in Recent Work On The Shap Avenue, , Vol. LXXVIII, (1978), 5-16
Bowman, A, MPP Single Monument Class Description - Large Reg Stone Circle, (1990)
RCHME, Westmorland, (1936)
SMR No. 1568, Cumbria SMR, Shap Standing Stone and Stone Circle, (1985)

End of official listing