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 Location: Stanton Drew Village, Avon. (ST 600 633).  Grid Reference:  51° 22.1' N, 2° 34.4' W.

 

Stanton Drew (Photo Credit Steve Weir)      Stanton Drew: (Stone Circle, Henges, Avenues).

This huge megalithic complex consists of three stone circles, two stone avenues, a cove of stones and an outlier. The Great Circle is the second largest English stone ring after the outer circle at Avebury, is 112m (368ft) in diameter and is composed of 27 stones.

Beside it lies the North-East Ring. It is 29.6m (97ft) across and its eight massive boulders, four of which still standing, are the biggest of the entire complex. The South-West Ring, badly ruined and on private land, is not open to the public.

(More about Triple-circles)

 

 

   Stanton Drew:

From the two visible circles there are two avenues running eastward towards the river Chew. The avenue starting from the North-East Ring, composed of seven surviving stones, and the wrecked one extending from the Great Circle, if continued, would have merged into one. The Cove, in a straight line with the centres of the two accessible stone circles, consists of two huge upright stones with a recumbent slab lying between them. They are blocks of dolomitic breccia, while the circles' stones are of pustular breccia and oolitic limestone. The Outlier, also known as Hautville's Quoit, lies half a kilometer (1850ft) north-east of the circles, on a high ridge. It is a sandstone boulder, now recumbent, and it is in a straight line with the centres of the Great Circle and the South-West Ring.

Burl recognises the presence of four henges at Stanton Drew.

 

The Nearby Cove in the garden of the 'Druid's Arms'

 

Results of Recent Surveys at Stanton Drew:

English Heritage's Ancient Monuments Laboratory scientists, in recent geophysical research of the site (with a portable magnetometer), have discovered that within the Great Circle are the remains of a highly elaborate pattern of buried pits that once held massive posts. They are arranged in nine rings concentric with the stone circle, at the centre of which are further pits. The rings vary in diameter from 23m to 95m (75.5ft to 311.7ft). The magnetometer survey also revealed that the Great Circle is itself contained within a very large ditch 135m (443ft) in diameter. Twice as large as Stonehenge, this prehistoric ceremonial site has been described as the biggest in Britain.

Nine concentric circles revealed at Stanton Drew.

Schematic of Stanton Henge with opening to the North-East.

 

Tradition and Myth:

There are several local traditional stories about the megalithic complex. The best known tells how a wedding party was turned to stone: the party was held throughout Saturday, but a man clothed in black (the Devil in disguise) came and started to play his violin for the merrymakers after midnight, continuing into holy Sunday morning. When dawn broke, everybody had been turned to stone by the Demon: so the stone circles are the dancers, the avenues are the fiddlers and the Cove is the bride and the groom with the drunken churchman at their feet. They are still awaiting the Devil who promised to come back someday and play again for them. Another legend, shared with Long Meg and Her Daughters and many other megalithic monuments says that the Stanton Drew's stones are uncountable. John Wood reported this story in 1750; when he tried to count the stones, a thunderstorm broke out.

 

Alignments:

Professor Alexander Thom assumed a third orientation, to the major southern moonset, from the centre of the North-East Ring through the South-West one. As Professor Aubrey Burl writes: Midsummer processions and ceremonies may be imagined, rituals by moonlight celebrated by hundreds of people from the countryside, assembling for reasons long forgotten but preserved silently in the stones themselves

 

Article: BBC Jan 2010.

Archaeologists have discovered the collection of prehistoric standing stones at Stanton Drew is older than originally thought.

'During geophysical surveys last summer, they found the outline of a burial mound dated from nearly 1000 years before the stone circles. The surveys were carried out by Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society and the council's Archaeological Officer.Their work has brought new light on the origins of the Cove - the three large stones in the beer garden of the Druid's Arms.

Stone circles such as those at Stanton Drew are known to date broadly to the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age, about 3000 to 2000 BC. The dig last summer found a burial mound from 1000 years before the stone circle. The upright stones might be better explained as the portals or facade of a chambered tomb'.

(Link to Full Article)

 

Stanton Drew: Gallery of Images:

Engraving from ' “Old England- A Pictorial Museum” By Charles Knight. (1845)

 

Overhead of Stanton Drew.

 

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