|NT 918 270 (Pub.)||Circle not found.|
|Visited September 2003|
The Yeavering Bell circle has been listed in Aubrey Burl's gazetteer since 1976 and it is also listed in Barnatt so we were reasonably confident of a visit to an interesting site, unfortunately this was not the case.
The specified coordinates lie in the heart of the Cheviots about 7km west of Wooler, this is an area of great natural beauty and the landscape has a rich wealth of prehistoric features such as hillforts, cairns and top quality rock art. Only two kilometres west of the coordinates, over the peak of Hare Law are the two huge rings of the Hethpool stone circles in the College valley. This would be the perfect setting for the 12m, possibly concentric, stone circle listed by Burl.
We verified the exact position of the coordinates using GPS, as the quoted reference is only six figure a 50m-ish accuracy was assumed. The actual location is a large grassy area with a fairly steep slope, it has excellent views to the west, the land is heather and grass moor with several natural clusters of large rocks. We examined every rock cluster within a 200m radius of the coordinates, all seemed to be random jumbles of stones with no artificial arrangement apparent. All of the stone groups were on sloping ground with no signs of the terracing or platforming that might be expected for a stone circle or ritual site on such a slope. We extended a more general search out to about 400m and found nothing that might have been the circle. There is a possibility that the circle is comprised of very diminutive stones and that it lay buried in one of the many heather patches, but considering the local abundance of large (>1m), stones in the area it seems unlikely the circle would be constructed in this fashion.
A telling feature is that despite bibliographic references, the Yeavering Bell circle is not listed in the Northumbrian SMR. Suspiciously, there is a reference in the SMR to the Kirknewton Stone Circle at NT 918 290, listed as a c.40ft circle with stones as high as 4ft. Recent official surveys have failed to find any trace of this circle and the SMR listing states that "there is no local knowledge of a stone circle hereabouts". Kirknewton circle is now listed in the SMR as a bibliographic reference only, with no physical trace remaining.
It may well be that the Kirknewton and Yeavering Bell circles were actually one and the same, but it is fairly certain that no trace of either is apparent today.