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Monument record MDR200 - Bull Ring Henge Monument, Dove Holes, Chapel-en-le-Frith

Type and Period (2)

  • (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • (Late Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 701 BC)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

The ancient earthwork at Dove Holes, known as the "Bull Ring", consists of a circular vallum with a ditch on the inner side enclosing a plateau which formed the site of a stone circle. Local tradition asserts that the large stones which formed the circle were removed upwards of a century ago, to be used either for building material or for the making of the road which runs a short distance away. There seems to be no published record of any systematic or scientific excavations having been made at the Bull Ring. However it appears that Mr John Ward 'some years ago' cut a tentative trench through the ditch and discovered a fragment of early earthenware. (1) The Bull Ring is of the 'double-entrance' class of henge monument. No stone-holes were found, but it is known from an 18th century account that the monument once had a stone setting. Excavations took place in March 1949 and produced bone, flint (mostly utilised waste flakes) and pottery in Beaker fabrics. Only the pottery provided any dating evidence. (2) A class II henge monument. No stones are evident. Resurveyed at 1/2500. Barrow surveyed at 1/2500. (3) A report of 1902 refers to the finding of a human skeleton when quarrying was being carried out, but no details were recorded. Also in 1902 a trench was dug by Micah Salt, Ward and others across the ditch on the west side, although the results were never adequately published and the finds have been lost. There are other indications that unrecorded digging has taken place in the past, for example a trench cutting through the bank on the east-south-east. In 1949 Alcock excavated six small trenches within the henge in order to obtain dating evidence. A rim sherd from the excavation that was identified as being from a beaker is, in fact, more in character with a food vessel. Further excavations took place in March to April 1984 and in May 1985 by the southern entrance. These recovered only undated and post-medieval features, with re-deposited flints. A detailed contour survey of the henge was made to facilitate the monitoring of subsequent changes to the site. (5) Scheduled, Bull Ring and round barrow (see SMR 3506 for the latter). The monument is situated on the north-western edge of the limestone plateau of Derbyshire and includes, within a single area, Bull Ring henge and the adjacent oval barrow. Also included is the bowl barrow superimposed on the western end of the oval barrow. The henge has an external diameter of 93m by 90m and comprises a bank and internal quarry ditch surrounding an oval area measuring 53m from north to south by 46m from east to west. The steep-sided rock-cut ditch currently varies between 8m and 12m wide and between 0.5m and 1m deep. Partial excavations carried out by Alcock in 1949, demonstrated that, originally, it measured 5m to 6.5m wide and was between 1.2m and 2.1m deep. The surrounding bank is currently c.1m high and between 9m and 11m wide. It has spread since its construction, however, and was originally 2m high and 5.5m to 7m wide. It is broken by opposing entrances to north and south, each with a causeway across the ditch and each measuring c.9m wide. The northern example was damaged by quarrying in the nineteenth century, when a human skeleton was reputedly found. Between the bank and ditch is a berm or terrace which originally measured 5m wide and is clearly visible in the southern part of the site. Northwards, it becomes narrower and is finally obscured by the spread material of the bank. The interior of the henge contains the linear earthwork remains of eighteenth century ploughing which, to the west of the northern entrance, has partially levelled the inner edge of the ditch. Also during the eighteenth century, a drystone wall crossed the site and has since been removed though the line of it can still be seen as a gap in the plough ridges. Pilkington, writing in 1789, records that a single orthostat of a possible stone circle remained within the henge. This has gone and no investigation of the interior of the henge has been carried out to confirm whether or not a stone circle existed. In addition to Alcock's excavations of the ditch and bank, a minor excavation was carried out in the west ditch by Salt in 1902 and, in 1984, a larger excavation by Barnatt and others took place outside the south entrance. Material recovered by Salt has been lost but is reported to have included pottery sherds and flint flakes, while Alcock found further flint flakes and artefacts and a rim from a pottery food vessel. The 1984 excavation confirmed that the area south of the henge had been disturbed in the post-medieval period, but several pits and the stake holes of a hurdle fence which followed the henge bank are undated and may be contemporary with the henge. In addition to post-medieval material and a sherd of Roman pottery, numerous flint flakes and implements were also found in this area. (6) A geophysical survey was carried out within the henge monument in September 2000. High resolution magnetometer and resistivity surveys were conducted, but neither revealed any trace of internal structures. (8)

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Tristram, E. 1915. 'The stone circle known as the "Bull Ring" at Dove Holes and the mound adjoining', Derbyshire Archaeology Journal. Vol. 37, pp 77-86.
  • <2> Article in serial: Alcock, L. 1950. 'The henge monument of the Bull Ring, Dove Holes, Derbyshire', Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. Volume 16, pp 81- 86, illust..
  • <3> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 02-FEB-66.
  • <4> Monograph: Harding A F and Lee, G E. 1987. Henge Monuments and Related Sites of Great Britain, BAR British Series 175. pp 113-5.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Barnatt, J & Myers, A. 1988. 'Excavations at the Bull Ring henge, Dove Holes, Derbyshire, 1984-5', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 108, pp 5-50, illust..
  • <6> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1993. Scheduling Notification: Bull Ring henge, oval barrow and bowl barrow. 23282.
  • <7> Index: NDAT. 0612.
  • <8> Bibliographic reference: Martin, L (English Heritage). 2001. The Bull Ring, Dove Holes, Derbyshire: Report on Geophysical Survey, September 2000. SMR Doc. No. 556.



Grid reference Centred SK 07848 78237 (91m by 90m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (6)

  • EDR342
  • EDR1809
  • EDR1642
  • EDR742
  • EDR1648
  • EDR1808

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Record last edited

Apr 18 2017 11:47AM

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