Handsome Cross Circle, High Bradfield, South Yorkshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SK 26 94

Archaeology & History

This lost ring of stones was one many sites that could once be found in this area.  It was written about in John Watson’s (1776) essay on the local antiquities, where, in describing places he thought were druidical remains (like the prehistoric Bar Dike and Apronful of Stones cairn), he told that

“There is something also of this sort on the other side of Bardike on Bradfield Common; in particular a circle of about eight yards diameter composed of twelve stones, and a confused heap in the centre, near Handsome Cross, and the faint remains of two larger not far off.”

Subsequent local historians like Joseph Hunter (1819) and Harold Armitage (1939) mention the place, with Armitage giving the impression that remains of it could be seen in his lifetime, but today we are at a loss to known its exact position and nature.  By the sound of Watson’s initial description, this circle sounded as if a cairn of some sort was in the centre, giving it more a funerary nature than an open stone circle.  But we don’t know for certain. This is also what John Barnatt (1990) posited in his local survey.

Based on the landscape, an initial analysis would place the circle most probably at SK 2615 9424, close to where the Handsome Cross itself stood—but this is conjectural.  The natural landscape hereby has been ruined by extensive farming and forestry, so any remains of it seem improbable.


  1. Armitage, Harold, Early Man in Hallamshire, Sampson Low: London 1939.
  2. Barnatt, John, Stone Circles of Britain – volume 2, BAR: Oxford 1989.
  3. Barnatt, John, The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District, University of Sheffield 1990.
  4. Hunter, Joseph, Hallamshire: The History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffield, Lackington: London 1819.
  5. Morgan, Paul & Vicki, Rock around the Peak, Sigma 2001.
  6. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 1, Cambridge University Press 1961.
  7. Watson, John, “An Account of some Hitherto Undescribed Remains of Antiquity“, in Archaeologia, volume 5, 1776.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

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