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Historic England Research Records

Mayburgh Henge

Hob Uid: 12002
Location :
Cumbria
Eden
Yanwath and Eamont Bridge
Grid Ref : NY5191728428
Summary : Mayburgh Henge is a Late Neolithic henge monument surviving as an earthwork, one of three in close proximity between the Rivers Eamont and Lowther. The earthworks were surveyed in 1988 and some geophysical survey also undertaken. The earthwork is defined by an almost circular bank which is up to 45 metres wide and 7.3 metres high, surrounding an internal area up to 90 metres in diameter. The bank is made up almost entirely of water-worn stones. Unusually for a site of this type there is no surrounding ditch. A single entrance exists on the eastern side. The interior is level, and a single standing stone is located near the centre. The geophysical survey identified several anomalies in the interior, although interpretation is difficult. A magnetic anomaly at the base of, and concentric to, the inner side of the bank could be a narrow ditch, or a negative lynchet associated with ploughing in the interior. An erratic series of pit-like features could be burials, pits, or former stone settings. One group is clustered to the south east of the standing stone, in an area where Dugdale recorded a stone setting in the later 17th century. In the early 18th century, William Stukeley suggested that there had been two concentric stone circles, but the anomalies do not seem to corroborate this. No excavations are known to have occurred, but Stukeley recorded that a "brass celt" had been found there, while in 1879 part of a stone axe was found near the entrance. As with the other two sites in the group, classification as a henge is not without its difficulties, but at present offers the most plausible interpretation. The function of such large monuments is not fully understood, although it is thought that they played a role in social or ritual activities, perhaps involving trade or astronomical observations. As part of the millennium celebrations in 2000 a large stone monolith was erected nearby. The monument which is now in the care of English Heritage.
More information : [NY 519 284] Mayburgh [NAT] Henge [NR]
Standing Stone [NR] (1)

The earthwork known as Mayburgh lies about 1/4 mile south-west of Eamont Bridge on slightly rising ground. It consists of a rampart of loosely-piled stones, now mostly covered with turf, rising to a maximum height of 15 ft. and encircling an area of approximately 1 1/2 acres. There is one original entrance on the east side and a modern gap on the south-west. There is no trace of a ditch either inside, or outside the rampart. One large stone stands within the area to a height of 9 ft. above the turf.

William Stukeley, writing in 1725, claimed that there had been two circles of huge stones within the rampart,-one immediately inside the bank, the other with a diameter of 50 ft. to which the remaining stone belonged. Thomas Pennant, in his 'Tour of Scotland' 1796, said four stones stood in the centre and four more flanked the entrance, two on each side. A detailed survey was made for C.W.A.S. in 1890 by C.W. Dymond (OS., xi, 191).

No excavations at the site have been recorded, but Stukeley stated that a 'brass celt' had been found there, and in 1879 part of a roughed-out stone axe was found near the entrance. The monument has been classified by Professors J. G. D. Clark and R. J. C. Atkinson as a Henge Monument and presumably dates from Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age times. It is, however, unusual in many of its features, the closest comparison being with Maumbury Rings, Dorchester (Dorset). (2)

Mayburgh. In care of M.o.W. (3)

Resurveyed at 1/2500. (4)

Scheduled. (5)

An anomaly at the base of the bank encircling the interior may represent a narrow ditch, less than 4m wide; also within the enclosure are an erratic series of pit-like features which could be burials, rubbish pits or the positions of former stone settings. (6)

NY 5192 2843. The Mayburgh earthwork, one of three supposed henges, was surveyed at 1:250 scale by RCHME Newcastle in September 1988 as an element in the Penrith Henges Survey; the original survey and accompanying archive account are held in the NMR.

The work, situated on a low knoll at 130m OD, is in the care of English Heritage and open to the public. It is intervisible with King Arthur's Round Table (NY 52 NW 2) some 155m to the E, but not the Little Round Table (NY 52 NW 3). It is near-circular on plan, measuring about 90m N-S by 87.5m E-W within a bank, composed almost entirely of water-worn stones, which varies from a minimum of 33.7m wide and 3.8m high in the N perimeter, to a width of 40m and a height of 6.8m in the S. An absolute maximum size of 45m across and 7.3m external height is attained on the S side of the entrance in the E arc. The bank has been mutilated by former quarrying and robbing, and by the uprooting of trees; a number of mature trees still remain around the bank. The entrance in the E narrows from 12.5m to 6.2m towards the fairly level interior, which contains an irregularly-shaped monolith, 2.79m high, some 10m NW of the approximate centre of the monument.

The archaeological history of the site is summarised in the archive account. Stukeley (7), who visited Mayburgh in 1725 stated that there had been two circles of stones in the interior, of which only four had survived, and three of these had been blown up just before 1725. However, the earliest account of the site (with a plan) by Dugdale c. 1664 (8) noted only four stones in the interior and two more standing just outside the entrance. Dymond (9) appraised the monument in 1891, since which time little has changed.

A geophysical survey was undertaken in late 1988 of virtually the whole of the interior of the monument (10).

Published report of RCHME research of 1988 of Mayburgh, King Arthur's Round Table and the Little Round Table, complete with plans, details of the geophysical work and discussion. Traditionally all three sites have been classified as henges, but only King Arthur's Round Table falls unequivocally into this category. Mayburgh has no direct parallels on the British mainland, and though conflicting antiquarian accounts of settings of standing stones at Mayburgh suggest some form of henge, precise classification as such remains a problem which only excavation can resolve. (11)

NY 5191 2843. Mayburgh henge. Scheduled RSM No 23647. (12)

Mayburgh. Included in a gazetteer of Henge monuments. (13)

An English Heritage Property. (14)

A study of the alignments of sunrise and sunset at the time of the midsummer and midwinter solstices and the equinox at Long Meg, Swinside, Castlerigg, Urswick and Mayburgh Henge. (15)

A brief history and description. (16)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1971
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Source Number : 2
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : Fell, C
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 115, 1958
Source Number : 11
Source : The Penrith henges : a survey by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England
Source details :
Page(s) : 249-264
Figs. : 02-May
Plates :
Vol(s) : 58, 1992
Source Number : 12
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 22/07/1994
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 13
Source : Henge monuments and related sites of Great Britain : air photographic evidence and catalogue
Source details :
Page(s) : 107-9
Figs. : 106
Plates :
Vol(s) : 175
Source Number : 14
Source : The English Heritage visitors' handbook 1998-99
Source details :
Page(s) : 173
Figs. :
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Source Number : 15
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details : 'Further investigations into the astronomical alignments at Cumbrian prehistoric sites', article by Steven Hood, Douglas Wilson
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 3, 2003
Source Number : 16
Source : Heritage Unlocked: Guide to free sites in the North West
Source details :
Page(s) : 36-37
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Source Number : 3
Source : Large Scale / Small Scale Map Revisers Comment
Source details : SS Reviser M.G. June 69 (information from tablet)
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Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 RWE 19-AUG-65
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Source Number : 5
Source : County list of Scheduled Ancient Monuments : December 1987
Source details : Cumbria
Page(s) : 34
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Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Peter Topping and Keith Blood/1989/RCHME Penrith Henges Survey
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Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Stukeley W, 1776, Itinerarium Curiosum, 1776
Page(s) : 44
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Source Number : 8
Source : Monumenta Britannica. John Aubrey (1626-97), part 3 and Index
Source details :
Page(s) : 113
Figs. :
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Source Number : 9
Source : Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society
Source details : Dymond CW. 1891. Mayburgh and King Arthur's Round Table
Page(s) : 187-219
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 11, 1891
Source Number : 10
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Gater JA, 1988, Report on Geophsical Survey, Penrith Henges, Cumbria, Autumn 1988, Geophysical Surveys Ltd, Bradford (copy in the NMR).
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Neolithic
Display Date : Neolithic
Monument End Date : -2200
Monument Start Date : -4000
Monument Type : Findspot
Evidence : Find
Monument Period Name : Late Neolithic
Display Date : Late Neolithic
Monument End Date : -2200
Monument Start Date : -2900
Monument Type : Henge, Standing Stone, Stone Circle
Evidence : Earthwork, Structure, Conjectural Evidence, Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Bronze Age
Display Date : Bronze Age
Monument End Date : -700
Monument Start Date : -2600
Monument Type : Findspot
Evidence : Find

Components and Objects:
Period : Neolithic
Component Monument Type : Findspot
Object Type : AXEHEAD, ROUGHOUT
Object Material : Stone
Period : Bronze Age
Component Monument Type : Findspot
Object Type : AXEHEAD
Object Material : Bronze

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : CU 135
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 23647
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 156
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NY 52 NW 12
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 11978
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 11981
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NY 52 NW 12
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-08-19
End Date : 1965-08-19
Associated Activities : Primary, MAYBURGH HENGE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: PENRITH HENGES SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1988-09-06
End Date : 1989-01-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ASH BANK, SOUTHWAITE GREEN MILL, EAMONT BRIDGE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, KING ARTHUR'S ROUND TABLE
Activity type : THEMATIC SURVEY
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31