Leacet Hill

Stone Circle - Westmorland

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NY 56309 26295  (GPS 17min).  Diameter 10.1m (Meas. best fit to visible stones) 
Visited - April 2003 No magnetic anomalies

The Leacet Hill circle stands on the edge of a plantation about 6km SE of Penrith.  Described on the 1:50000 OS map as a "Cairn Circle", Leacet is not the usual contiguous ring of low slabs placed lengthwise around a central cairn. The stones stand upright, some of them relatively tall, and they have the wide regular spacing associated with true free-standing stone circles. There is a central flat-topped cairn and the stones are arranged around the edges of this.

At first sight it appears that what remains at the site today is only half of a stone circle, the surviving semicircle of stones standing on one side of a drystone wall. Presently, the land to the north of the wall is used for forestry, the ground rising steeply from the projected northern edge of the circle up to the top of Leacet Hill itself. The land to the south of the circle is flat for some distance, it almost seemed as though the circle were nestling at the base of the hill, as if for shelter. 
We found five stones, three of them sizable, with the tallest standing 1.75m high at the east. It has been suggested that the stone at the south (base of pole in above photo), is not an original circle stone, this is probably because its position disturbs the regular c4m spacing seen with the other stones. We plotted the position of the five visible stones (including the southern), and obtained a best-fit circle of 10.1m.
According to published reports and an excavation* carried out in 1880, the circle originally had nine stones and although some are fallen, all are still supposed to be in situ. Three stones of between 1.2m and 0.8m are said to lie buried on the north side of the wall and two stones 50cm high are said to stand between the wall and the visible western and eastern stones. We certainly could not find the two small stones and if the c4m spacing holds true, the eastern stone would be on the north side of the wall, not the south. The circle area on the north of the wall was deeply buried in forestry debris from recent logging, with at least one tree stump intruding into the circle, so it was impossible to tell if the three large stones still lie buried there.
The excavation revealed cremation deposits at the base of four of the stones accompanied by five collared urns, a pygmy cup and a food vessel. At the centre of the cairn was a layer of charcoal containing calcined bone and fire-reddened stones, the circle diameter was quoted as being 10.1m x 11.3m.

*Robinson & Ferguson 1881,  Trans. Cumberland & Westmorland Arch. Soc. 5, 75

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