Large regular stone circle 240m ENE of Elva Plain


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013385

Date first listed: 26-Aug-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Jul-1995


Ordnance survey map of Large regular stone circle 240m ENE of Elva Plain
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Allerdale (District Authority)

Parish: Setmurthy

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: NY 17701 31716


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 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 the loss of some of the stones which originally formed part of the monument, the stone circle 240m ENE of Elva Plain survives reasonably well and remains a good example of this class of monument. It will contribute to the study of the ceremonial function and date of large regular stone circles.


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


The monument includes a large regular stone circle of 15 pink granite boulders located on a relatively level terrace on the southern slopes of Elva Hill 240m ENE of Elva Plain. The arrangement of stones forms an almost perfect circle with an internal diameter of 33.5m. The 15 stones are all that remain visible of an original number of about 30; of these, those in the north east quadrant are level with the ground, one on the east side has recently become partly buried, and the remainder of the stones have fallen, with the possible exception of the stone due west of centre which stands to a height of 0.7m.

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: 23793

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Waterhouse, J, The Stones Circles of Cumbria, (1986), 75-6
Anderson, W D, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Elva Stone Circle, , Vol. XXIII, (1923), 29-33
MPP Single Mon Class Descriptions - Large Regular Stone Circles,
SMR No. 874, Cumbria SMR, Stone Circle on Elva Hill, (1984)

End of official listing