Gamelands Stone Circle from the air MYD62346. Courtesy of Jon Chappell
There are 19th century references to Gamel’s land, and Gamel de Pennington was the Lord of the Manor at Orton in the mid-medieval period. This is likely the source of the name.
The embanked stone circle includes an oval enclosure of more than 40 stones, all but one of which are Shap pink granite (the exception being limestone). There are two large gaps in the circle and, according to R. S. Ferguson (1883), when the site had been ploughed some years before a number of stones had been buried in pits and/or blown up.
It has been more than a century since Gamelands was first surveyed and investigated. In order to assess how the monument has changed and evaluate its current condition it was necessary to undertake a new measured survey (carried out as part of the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme) – several methods were used including plane table method, GPS survey, geophysical surveys (magnetometry and resistivity). This revealed in detail banks that hadn’t previously been recorded.
Results strongly suggest that it was originally an embanked stone circle, with stones sat in a low bank, remnant patches of which survive as subtle earthworks. There is no clear evidence of a ditch at the site. However, there is possible evidence of internal and adjacent features, reflecting contemporary prehistoric activity or later activity (which includes evidence of the 1880 excavation, however no evidence that stones were buried). Features that post-date the site show its reuse. These include banks that were later field boundaries, some of which are part of a large-scale (possible) medieval field system, with the stone circle acting as a boundary marker and a junction in this system. This is evidence of its continued importance in the landscape.
YDNPA, Report on Earthwork and Geophysical Surveys at Gamelands Stone Circle for the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership, unpublished report, 2023
Historic England, https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1011138