Shap Stone Circles
Bronze Age Stone Circles
Shap, Cumbria
OS Map Ref: Wilson Scar NY549182   Gunnerkeld NY568178   Kemp Howe NY567133
OS Maps - Landranger 90 (Penrith & Keswick), Explorer OL5 (The English Lakes: NE Area)


View of Kemp Howe Stone Circle

There are (or were) three stone circles in this area overlooked by the Shap Fells, Ralfland Forest, Bamton Common and the valley of the River Lowther to the west. Shap South (Kemp Howe), Shap Centre (Gunnerkeld) and Shap North (Wilson Scar).

Kemp Howe (images on this page) is the most accessible but is badly damaged by by having been bisected by the Preston-Carlisle mainline railway with only six large stones still in situ. It would originally have been over 24 metres wide had not 19th century railway technology so rudely disturbed it.

Gunnerkeld, about 3 miles to the north of Kemp Howe, consists of two ovals, the outer has three stones remaining from an original eighteen that would have measured some 28 metre across. The inner oval is much better preserved, and is 18 metres wide containing a burial mound. It stands on private land and permission must be sought before visiting it (unfortunately there was nobody home when I visited so I have yet to see the circle at first hand although it can be seen from the southbound carriage of the nearby M6 motorway)

Wilson Scar, about a mile to the west of Gunnerkeld, consisted of thirty-two small stones that stood in a 15 metre circle west of the A6 and north-northwest of the vilage of Shap itself. The land that it stood on is part of a large quarry and is inaccessible, however there is a record of a circle being excavated here in 1943 prior to quarrying - leading to the conclusion that Wilson Scar has now been destroyed.

The circles form part of a much lager complex of monuments that form a roughly southeast-northwest alignment that is now shadowed by the routes of the M6, the A6 and the West Coast Mainline. See also Shap Stone Row

Date: Bronze Age

Kemp Howe Stone Circle - looking southwest
Looking southwest across Kemp Howe towards the hills of the Shap Fells.
Kemp Howe Stone Circle  - looking southeast
Kemp Howe looking southeast. Compare this with the idyllic Cumbrian views above.

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