Elva Plain is one of the most northerly of the Cumbrian circles , it is situated close to the River Derwent and therefore on a possible routeway from the Irish Sea into the central lakes via Lake Bassenthwaite, Derwent Water and the Borrowdale Valley. Another route could have been to skirt the Caldbeck Fells to Penrith, this route would have taken traveller past the recently recognised causeway enclosure of Aughertee Fell
On my visit I followed Sals directions. Once past the farmhouse I splodged through the gate into a large muddy swamp. There were half a dozen bullocks standing in the middle of the stone circle in the centre of the field. In the next field there was a large solitary bull, who on seeing me began to hurridly patrol the area around the stile. I was a little worried about the bullocks as they refused to budge from the centre of the field. If I had to run for it the stile was definitely not an option.
Bollocks! I had driven for two hours to reach this lovely circle, I wasn't going to give up now. So began the Mexican standoff of Elva Plain ( cue -Ennio Morricone).
I decided that my best strategy to shift the bullocks was to confuse the crap out of them. I did a little jig to the left and the bullocks moved with me, a little jig to the right, a couple wobbly jumps with arms outstretched and then a staggered but determined march towards them, jeez I hope no-one was watching. It worked! the bullocks were freaked and moved off to the stile and the safe presence of papa bull who had stopped his patrolling to watch the freak in the field.
I was dead chuffed, I was stood in this beautiful stone circle under a beautiful Cumbrian sky with the mighty Skiddaw Massif looking down on me and I was king of the field, papa bull and his boys couldn't touch me.
The circle is beautiful, it's knocked about with a few gaps in it's circumference but that means nothing when you drink in the views.
The magestic fells draw the eye here but if you turn and look to the top of Elva Hill you will notice a natural outcrop of rock. Is it too much to speculate that prior to the building of the circle this outcrop was the focus and the circle was erected lower down the hill in deference to this earlier site. Who knows?
Burl notes that The longest stone in the circle is at the western point and the shortest at the eastern point. Also there seems to be a little confusion as to the number of stones in the circle. Burl counts 15, Waterhouse counts 14 and Seton counts 13. This confusion is due to the different ways each surveyor counts the small group of 3 stones on the northern edge.
Parking - Parking is difficult in this area and I would advise that you don't block any field entrances. If you park at the Setmurthy Common carpark NY164314 it's only a walk of a few hundred metres to the farm entrance.
There's a public footpath from the road up the private road to Elva Plain farm - turn right into the farm yard and follow the track keeping the buildings on your left. The circle is in the field at the top of the track.
The number of times I'd driven along the A66 and never turned off to Elva Plain .... when eventually I did, it was the perfect day for it - with views from the peaks of the northern lake district across to the sea.
'Reminiscant of Gamelands. A fairly large circle/oval of rounded stones layn in grass. A clump of stones together have possibly been moved from elsewhere. 10 stones or sets of stones; an additional 3 have just their stump level with the ground. Most stones aren't large but 2 are much larger than the others.
180 degrees of vista is fantastic hills: some angular lakeland drama (Skiddaw); the rest of the view this lovely Cumbrian moorland of rounded peaks and troughs.
Very open on those sides; a place to sit and look.
The 3 stones buried in the grass are likely as big as those above ground.'
Aubrey Burl says that this site used to be called 'Elfhaugr'*. Haugr means mound in Old Norse; and Elf - well, one would like to think this meant 'elf' rather than a person with an elf-inspired name.
Haugr may imply burial mound, (like 'howe') but as the stone circle on Elva plain isn't actually a mound, could it refer to Elva Hill itself? Does the whole hill belong to the elves? Better watch out if you pay a visit, just in case.
Gareth Evans at 'Time Travel Britain' claims
"The hill itself is locally reputed to be a fairy hill and, according to some, hides a secret gateway into the otherworld, which only opens at certain times of the year." http://www.timetravel-britain.com/05/fall/fairy.shtml
In John Askew's Guide To Cockermouth of 1872 he notes that some forty years earlier a Fletcher Grave of Cockermouth described two concentric circles on this site, the inner twenty paces and the outer sixty of which most were removed when the land was enclosed.
An outlying stone was recorded in 1923, to the SW of the circle, but has since been removed.