Enigmatic stone mounds in the Lake District

- By Derek Holmes - Society member.

Map showing valley location in lake district For many years Derek has been plotting and trying to interpret a group of sites in this area. Derek is by profession a Physicist and worked for some time at the Windscale nuclear reactor in the Lake District. This gave him the opportunity to explore the area and to carry out some detailed field-walking in the upper valley, near Ambleside in the Lake District.

Although the area had bee the subject of a detailed survey in the 1930s he found that some significant stone age or perhaps early bronze age sites had been missed. He surmised that this was because, in the summer the area was covered in tall reed-like grasses and bracken making detailed investigation difficult. Derek had limited his field-walking to the very upper end of the valley, from the tongue (where there was a small central hill with steams down the valley to right and left) to the mouth (at the very head of the valley).

His talk centred on a number of stone cairns that he had found and also places where earth had been dug from the hillside and used to form fairly large, roughly circular platforms that had been generally classified by the National Trust as Charcoal burning sites. Derek argued that the positioning of the sites, high in the valley, made this classification questionable and wondered if they may have been the sites of dwellings. Only excavation would give the answers...

Stone circles - plan form He also gave a detailed analysis of a site that appeared to have two concentric circles of stones (see plan) with large upright stones linking the two circles in one place. He told the group that although this had been had been previously thought to be a medieval animal enclosure he wondered, given its proximity to a waterfall and other water features, if it could be of earlier origin and possible ritual use. A section of the site showing the placement of stones on a North-South and East-West axis can been seen in the sketch Here and made by Derek

The talk was wide-ranging and compared the Lake District sites with comparable sites on Dartmoor, Devon, in Wales and in Scotland. Quite apart form the archaeological interest the talk showed some wonderful Lake District views and the pleasure that can be had from walking in this area.

2018/19 Lectures

The program of lectures for the next season can now be found under the 'Lectures' tab above.

Summer Visits 2019

St Mary's, Houghton

This visit is planned to take place on Saturday 7th September starting at 10:30am.

Further Details


Lecture: Digging Sedgeford

King's Lynn Museum Service has arranged a lecture on Wednesday 18th September at Marriott's Warehouse (7:30pm). More details on the link below. Note: there is a charge for entry

Further Details


WNKLAS In The News

The society has been in the local Newspapers recently in coverage of the conference to celebrate our 50year anniversary and also the presentation to John Smallwood one of the founders.

Press Article


King John's Treasure

The society's investigation of a local farm contributed to a programme made for US television as part of the Expidition Unknown series. This systematic survey of an area that was a likely route for the Royal Treasure was also the subject of a recent lecture evening.

More Information