Doll Tor stone circle and cairn


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


Ordnance survey map of Doll Tor stone circle and cairn
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Sep-2019 at 01:41:47.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Derbyshire Dales (District Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SK 23832 62873

Reasons for Designation

The East Moors in Derbyshire includes all the gritstone moors east of the River Derwent. It covers an area of 105 sq km, of which around 63% is open moorland and 37% is enclosed. As a result of recent and on-going archaeological survey, the East Moors area is becoming one of the best recorded upland areas in England. On the enclosed land the archaeological remains are fragmentary, but survive sufficiently well to show that early human activity extended beyond the confines of the open moors. On the open moors there is significant and well-articulated evidence over extensive areas for human exploitation of the gritstone uplands from the Neolithic to the post-medieval periods. Bronze Age activity accounts for the most intensive use of the moorlands. Evidence for it includes some of the largest and best preserved field systems and cairnfields in northern England as well settlement sites, numerous burial monuments, stone circles and other ceremonial remains which, together, provide a detailed insight into life in the Bronze Age. Also of importance is the well preserved and often visible relationship between the remains of earlier and later periods since this provides an insight into successive changes in land use through time. A large number of the prehistoric sites on the moors, because of their rarity in a national context, excellent state of preservation and inter-connections, will be identified as nationally important.

Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of upright or recumbent stones. They are found throughout England although they are concentrated in western areas, a distribution which may reflect 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 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 which accompanied the interment of the dead. Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function with stones being aligned to solar or lunar events. As a rare monument type, which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation. Burial cairns, such as the example adjacent to the stone circle, are also of Bronze Age date and are the upland equivalents of the earthen barrows of the lowlands. Their considerable variation in form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the diversity of beliefs and the social organisation of prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection. Although disturbed by excavations, Doll Tor stone circle still holds much potential for the discovery of undisturbed archaeological deposits. Information on the relationship between the stone circle and cairn will be preserved.


The monument includes Doll Tor stone circle and an adjacent stone cairn. It is located less than 1km north of the village of Birchover and stands on gently shelving ground overlooking the Ivy Bar Brook and Harthill Moor to the west. To the immediate east of the circle are the remains of a sandstone quarry. The site stands on the eastern Millstone Grit fringes of the Peak District, overlooking the edge of the limestone plateau. The circle of stones is relatively small, having a diameter of 6m by 4.5m. There are now six standing stones arranged in a rough circle on the rim of a slightly raised kerbed area. A shallow ditch surrounds the monument which may be either prehistoric or the result of later excavation, and the whole arrangement stands on a platform cut into the hillslope with a slight revetment to the west. The land is uncleared and there are several large upright boulders within 10m of the circle, which could have been associated with the monument. There is no evidence that the circle of stones was set into an embankment - the more usual form in the Peak District - and it is possible that the circle once contained an internal mound and is, thus, the remains of a kerbed cairn. To the north east the remains of a complex cairn of approximately 5.5m diameter abutts the stone circle. The cairn has been robbed, probably for walling stone, since little now stands above ground level. Within the central area of the cairn is an arrangement of small vertically placed stones defining an area 1.8m by 1.3m. This could have been intended as an open area, or part of a cist enclosing human burial remains. There is also evidence that additional cairns were added to the east and south east sides of the main cairn. The relationship between the cairn and the circle shows that the circle was the primary monument of the two. The circle and cairn have been partially excavated: during the 19th century various artefacts were recovered from the monument including urns, cups and calcined human remains. During the first half of the present century the monument was again excavated and bone, bronze and flint implements and pottery were recovered, as well as further evidence of calcined human remains. The monument is dated to the Bronze Age, with the first components possibly constructed during the earlier part of this period. It is interpreted as a place of burial, ritual and possibly an area reserved for seasonal celebrations. The placing of the later cairn or cairns shows that the site was used for a protracted period of time. All walls, fences and posts are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Barnatt, J W, The 1994 Restoration of the Doll Tor Stone Circle, (1994)
Symonds, J, Preliminary Assessment of the Damage at Doll Tor, (1994)
Symonds, J, Preliminary Assessment of the Damage at Doll Tor, (1994)
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 79-82
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 79-82


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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