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Monument record MDR3889 - Wet Withens stone circle, Eyam Moor, Eyam

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

An extract from the 18th century antiquary John Wilson's unpublished manuscript includes the following: "Upon Eyam Moor are many Druidical monuments, or burial places. The first of these is a circle of stones, like an old wall bottom, the inside of which circle, close to it, is about forty yards long, and thirty-five broad from stone to stone on the inside the circle. Close to it stand sixteen stones of the large sort, set on the end, eleven or twelve of which are now standing, and the others lie near where they stood. In the middle appears to have been a small heap of stones, now even with the ground. Exactly in the middle, on one side the circle, is a huge heap of stones…". (1) The maximum height of the bank is 0.5m. Twelve stones are still standing (shown on survey) but there is no central stone. Published survey (25") revised. (2) Wet Withens is situated at 1,100 ft on an east-facing ridge which overlooks Bretton Clough and which forms the north edge of Eyam Moor. Frequently called a stone circle or cairn circle, it has sixteen stones each 2-3ft high set in a circle 90-100 ft across, on the inner edge of a sharply defined earth and rubble bank 2-3ft high, with an overall diameter of 116 ft. There was formerly a central stone with a cist in the flat centre. (3) Two possible cup marks have been identified on an upright in the north/north-east part of the circle, although it was noted that an alternative interpretation could be that they are natural hollows in the Millstone Grit. (5) Wet Withens is scheduled, with the monument including not only the stone circle but also the adjacent cairn to the north [SMR 5442]. The circle, which contains ten or eleven orthostats on the inner edge of an earthen bank, survives well. At the centre of the circle is a scatter of stones which may once have been a small cairn. (6) This large embanked stone circle is situated on a north-facing shelf at 335m OD. The site was first noted by Wilson in the 18th century. At this time there were sixteen orthostats, eleven or twelve of which were still standing. In 1842 there were still sixteen stones, but when the site was visited in 1852 only thirteen orthostats were noted. By 1860 only ten uprights survived and the site may have been much as it is today, with ten or eleven stones remaining on the inner edge of the bank in a 31m x 29.5m ring. Seven still stand although the majority lean inwards. Originally they were between 0.25m and 0.70m high. The remainder lean badly into the interior or are fallen. The bank is continuous, 2.5 x 3m wide with an external diameter of 36.5 x 35.5m. There is little visible trace of retaining kerbs but the bank is relatively steep-sided in parts, and kerbs may therefore survive below the tumble and thin peat cover. The only disturbance in the central area is a scatter of stones around a small pit. Several authors have noted a large orthostat and/or a mound in the central area which had been destroyed previously. These traditions may well be spurious and possibly derive from a misinterpretation of an account published by Rhodes in 1818. The earliest account of the centre of the circle [see (1) above] could be taken as an accurate description of what exists today. There is no recorded excavation of the circle. (7) Recent examination of the orthostat with the two possible cupmarks has confirmed that one near the top of the outer face is well defined, while another on the top is worn and more uncertainly interpreted. (8) Photographic record. (9)

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1861. Ten Years' Diggings in Celtic and Saxon Grave Hills. p 248.
  • <2> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 18-NOV-65.
  • <3> Article in serial: Radley, J. 1966. 'A Bronze Age ringwork on Totley Moor and other Bronze Age ringworks in the Pennines', Archaeological Journal. Volume 123, pp 1-26. pp 17-18.
  • <4> Index: NDAT. 0921. 0921.
  • <5> Article in serial: Barnatt, J (University of Sheffield) & Reeder, P. 1982. 'Prehistoric rock art in the Peak District', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 102, pp 33-44. p 44.
  • <6> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1999. Scheduling Notification. 31233. Cat. No. 2.
  • <7> Monograph: Barnatt, J. 1990. The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District. pp 71-72, Site 35, Fig. 39.
  • <8> Article in serial: Barnatt, J & Robinson, F. 2003. 'Prehistoric rock-art at Ashover School and further new discoveries ...', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 123, pp 1-28. pp 20-21.
  • <9> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 5452.1-2.



Grid reference Centred SK 2254 7899 (37m by 39m) (Centre)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR1120
  • EDR1228

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Record last edited

Sep 26 2013 4:42PM

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