Rempstone Stone Circle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018186

Date first listed: 15-Oct-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 17-May-2000


Ordnance survey map of Rempstone Stone Circle
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This copy shows the entry on 09-Dec-2018 at 22:15:40.


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

County: Dorset

District: Purbeck (District Authority)

Parish: Corfe Castle

National Grid Reference: SY 99462 82082


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 carefully designed and laid out, 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. A small stone circle comprises a regular or irregular ring of between 7 and 16 stones with a diameter of between 4 and 20 metres. They are widespread throughout England although clusters are found on Dartmoor, the North Yorkshire Moors, in the Peak District and in the uplands of Cumbria and Northumberland. Of the 250 or so stone circles identified in England, over 100 are examples of small stone circles. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.

Despite some limited disturbance by quarrying, Rempstone Stone Circle survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. Representing one of only five stone circles known in Dorset, this site has the best potential within the group for the preservation of waterlogged deposits.


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


The monument includes a small irregular stone circle, commonly known as Rempstone Stone Circle, situated on a slight ridge of the lower north facing slope of Brenscombe Hill. The site was discovered by the Dorset Field Club in 1908, surveyed by Stuart Piggott in 1939 and recorded by The Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in 1970. The circle has been partially disturbed by quarrying and the removal of stone settings to the south. This disturbance may relate to clay workings recorded within the area on a map of 1772. The ten surviving stones form an arc in plan, which suggests an original oval form with maximum dimensions of about 25m by 21m. The stones are all irregularly shaped boulders of hard gritstone sourced from local Bagshot Beds. The stones vary in height from about 0.3m to about 1m, and are between 0.4m by 0.7m to 2m by 1.3m in plan. Most of the stones have fallen and are partially buried. A group of eight stones situated 24m east of the circle was recorded in the 1930s, but the stones have since been removed. These stones may have related to the circle, although the nature of any relationship is unknown. In 1957, 23 stones forming a possible stone avenue were identified 850m to the north west of the circle. These stones were removed soon after discovery and their relationship with the circle, if any, is also uncertain. All fence posts relating to the modern field boundaries are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 3 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: 29075

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 514
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 514
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 514
'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in Rempstone Stone Circle, , Vol. XXIX, (1908), liii-iv
Calkin, B, 'Proc Dorset Nat Hist Arch Soc' in A Possible Avenue To the Rempstone Stone Circle, , Vol. LXXXI, (1959), 114-115
Piggott, S, Piggott, C M, 'Antiquity' in Stone and Earth Circles in Dorset, (1939), 148-9
Piggott, S, Piggott, C M, 'Antiquity' in Stone and Earth Circles in Dorset, (1939), 148-9

End of official listing