Embanked stone circle known as Wet Withens, and adjacent cairn


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Date first listed:
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Ordnance survey map of Embanked stone circle known as Wet Withens, and adjacent cairn
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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 22543 79011

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 upright or recumbent stones. Burial cairns may be found close to and on occasion within the circle. These monuments are found throughout England although they are concentrated in western areas with particular clusters in upland regions. Where excavated they have been found to date from the late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2,400-1,000 BC). 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 internment of the dead. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are considered worthy of preservation. Wet Withens stone circle is one of a small number of embanked monuments found in the Peak District. Its size, good condition and the close proximity to a large funerary cairn of unusual size and architecture make the monument a ceremonial complex of considerable importance. The cairn survives reasonably well and, unusually for the Peak District, includes a cup marked rock.


The monument includes a prehistoric stone circle set within an earthen bank together with an adjacent cairn of substantial proportions. The circle and cairn are located on gently shelving land on Eyam Moor, close to contemporary cairnfields and related monuments. The stone circle contains 10 or 11 orthostats (upright boulders) on the inner edge of the bank. The stones range between 0.25m and 0.7m high although some now lean inwards. If the original spacing of the stones was even, then approximately 16 to 18 of them once stood in the ring: some of the missing stones may still survive buried under tumble from the embankment. Most of the standing stones now bear modern graffiti. The bank forms a sub-circular earthwork with an internal diameter of 31m by 29.5m. It is between 2.5m and 3m wide with an external diameter of 36.5m by 35.5m. It survives well and is almost completely intact. This type of stone circle is known as an embanked stone circle. At the centre of the circle is a scatter of stones which may once have been a small cairn. About 10m to the north of the circle stands a large cairn occupying a commanding viewpoint to the north. Although much stone of the cairn still remains, it has been badly mutilated by partial excavation, possibly as the result of nearby quarrying activities during the 18th or 19th centuries, or by unrecorded antiquarian excavations. The cairn is elongated and measures 27.5m by 17.5m and stands about 1.1m high. Close to the centre of the cairn is a single cup marked stone. Although the cairn is interpreted as a prehistoric barrow its original type is unclear due to later mutilation but its shape indicates a complex original arrangement. It may have been constructed from two or more successive funerary cairns or may have been a long barrow. Its size and position indicate that it was of focal importance to ceremonial activities in the locality. Close to the barrow and circle are 19th century quarry pits and spoil heaps to the north west. The monument is in the care of the Secretary of State.

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.

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Books and journals
Barnatt, J, 'Sheffield Arch. Monograph 1' in The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, (1990), 71-3
Barnatt, J. W., Highlow Hall and Eyam Moor ... Archaeological Survey 1994-5., 1995, unpublished survey archive


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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