Stone circles

Castlerigg Stone Circle

This is a famous monument in a dramatic location, surrounded by mountains. The main circle has 38 large stones, some standing 3 metres (10 feet) high. The entrance seems to line up with the midwinter sunset. It's one of Britain's earliest stone circles, about 5,000 years old, and has been officially protected since 1883. However it gets so many visitors that conservation is an everpresent concern! Managed by the National Trust and English Heritage.

Location: Grid ref NY291236. 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) south east of Keswick off the A591. Limited parking near site.

Featured in our Stories in stone leaflet (PDF)

For more in depth information see Castlerigg Stone Circle Historic Environment Record (opens in new window)

Cockpit Stone Circle

Cockpit Stone Circle copyright Charlie Hedley

High above Ullswater, the windswept upland known as Moor Divock is scattered with prehistoric monuments. The Cockpit is one of the most impressive. It's a circular stone bank, 27 metres (90 feet) across, with larger stones set into its inner face. Like all stone circles, its original purpose is a mystery. It may have been for rituals and gatherings, or a sign of land ownership.

Location: Grid ref NY482222. 3.5 kilometres (2.2 miles) south west of Askham. Fairly steep walk from Askham or Pooley Bridge.

Featured in our Rocks, routes and rivers leaflet (PDF)

For more in depth information see Cockpit Stone Circle Historic Environment Record (opens in new window)

Swinside Stone Circle

This little-visited stone circle is one of the finest in Britain. It has 55 stones, up to 3 metres (10 feet) high. Like Castlerigg, it dates from the Neolithic period and its entrance seems to line up with the midwinter sunset. Its other name, Sunkenkirk, comes from a legend that people tried to build a church here, but the Devil kept pulling it down.

Location: Grid ref SD171881. 4 kilometres (2.5 miles) west of Broughton in Furness, turn off A595 at Broadgate. Parking at start of track, then 1.5 kilometres (0.9 mile) walk.

Featured in our Stories in stone leaflet (PDF)

For in depth information see Swinside Stone Circle Historic Environment Record (opens new window)

Swinside Stone Circle copyright LDNPA

Burnmoor Stone Circles

Burnmoor Stone Circles copyright Charlie Hedley

These five separate stone circles, perched on high moorland, date from around 2000 BC. They all contain at least one burial, marked by a stone cairn. Were they ritual monuments, meeting places or a mark of ownership? Perhaps all three. Nearby are stone banks and other cairns, which may be more recent. The whole site covers more than 2.5 square kilometres (1 square mile). Managed by the National Trust.

Location: Grid references NY172028, NY172027, NY172023, NY172024, NY173023. Burnmoor, above Boot. Parking at Dalegarth Station. Strenuous walk from village. The nearest and largest circle, Brat's Hill, is on your right.

Featured in our From sea to skyline leaflet (PDF)

For in depth information, see Burnmoor Stone Circles Historic Environment Record (opens in new window)