The Goatstones of Ravensheugh Crags (Northumberland Standing Stones)

The Goatstones ancient monument in Northumberland. (Image: Andrew Curtis. The Goatstones ancient monument in Northumberland)

Situated around 2.5 miles north of Hadrian’s Wall in the Northumberland parish of Wark-on-Tyne, The Goatstones occupy a patch of rugged, windswept upland near the edge of Ravensheugh Crags. Lonely and enigmatic, these standing stones are less than a metre high and a spaced about four metres apart. They’re classified as a four-poster stone circle due to their number and arrangement, and date back to the Bronze Age.

There’s evidence of a low mound and the remains of a stone cairn at the centre of The Goatstones, which may have been used for ancient burials and likely dates to a different period of prehistory than the stone circle itself. Four-poster circles are common in Scotland and relatively so in northern England, but less common further south, as well as in Ireland and Wales.

The Goatstones Bronze Age stone circle on Ravensheugh Crags, Northumberland. (Image: Les Hull. The Goatstones on Ravensheugh Crags)

Like the Fontburn stone circle, also in Northumberland, The Goatstones (understood to be derived from an old Saxon word “gyet stanes”, or “wayside stones”) bear evidence of ancient rock art including cup marks and other carved grooves. The site is now a scheduled ancient monument, and can easily be visited from the nearby Ward Lane (location here). Just be sure to wrap up, because the wind can be bracing in these parts.

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