Two stone circles and two stone avenues at Stanton Drew, east of Court Farm


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Bath and North East Somerset (Unitary Authority)
Stanton Drew
National Grid Reference:
ST 60034 63272

Reasons for Designation

The concentration of prehistoric ritual monuments at Stanton Drew constitutes a good and well-known example of its type, including three stone circles, two stone avenues and a cove. The two stone circles and two avenues contained within this monument are all good examples of their classes and together represent an unusual grouping. The site was first recognised by Stukeley in the 18th century. Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of upright or recumbent stones which may be surrounded by earthwork features such as surrounding banks and ditches. Where excavated, stone circles have been found to date mainly from the Late Neolithic to Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000BC). Although we do not understand fully the uses for which these monuments were constructed, it is clear that they had considerable ritual significance. In many cases excavation has indicated that they provided a focus for burials and the rituals that accompanied the interment of the dead. Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function, helping to mark the passage of time and the seasons by the careful alignment of stones to mark important solar or lunar events such as sunrise or sunset at midsummer or midwinter. At other sites the spacing of individual circles throughout the landscape has led to the suggestion that each one provided some form of gathering point for a specific tribal group. Linking the two circles at Stanton Drew and connecting one of the circles with the floodplain of the River Chew, are two avenues. These are parallel sided strips of ground up to 30m wide with open terminals and side-edges defined by lines of stone or timber uprights, sometimes with a bank and outer ditch. They are generally either short and straight or long and sinuous and, as is the case here, often link stone circles to watercourses. All known avenues occur within groups of Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age ceremonial monuments. The majority of avenues lie in central southern England, especially in Wiltshire and Dorset, although the overall distribution is wider, extending for examle to Northumberland and Cornwall. Both avenues and stone circles are rare nationally. Consequently, all examples with surviving remains are considered worthy of preservation.


The monument includes a large regular stone circle, a large irregular stone circle and two associated stone avenues situated to the east of Court Farm and forming the main focus of prehistoric remains at Stanton Drew. The complex occupies a gently sloping east facing river terrace overlooking the flood plain of the River Chew to the east. The largest circle at Stanton Drew (meaning homestead by the stones) is a large regular stone circle which lies on the western side of the group. It has a maximum diameter of 120m and now contains 27 visible stones whose arrangement appears almost circular in plan. The stones include blocks of dolomitic conglomerate, sandstone and oolitic limestone, all of which could be obtained locally. Only two of the stones remain standing; these are situated on the northern and southern sides of the monument and have dimensions of between c.2m-2.5m high and are each 1m-2m thick. The remaining stones, which are now recumbent, are of a variable size, but since most of these are partially buried, many are likely to be considerably larger than their current appearance would suggest. This stone circle is the second largest known in England, after Avebury in Wiltshire. On the north eastern side of the large regular circle is an avenue of five large standing stones. The avenue is nearly 50m long and 10m wide, orientated from north east to south west and extending down a slight east facing slope towards the smaller north eastern stone circle. The stones within this avenue are generally large, with dimensions of between 1m-1.5m in width and c.1.2m-2m in height. The large irregular stone circle lies 40m to the north east of the large regular circle and 5m to the north of the eastern end of the western avenue. This stone circle has a sub-oval plan with a maximum diameter of 35m. It contains seven large standing stones with dimensions of between 1.5m and 2m high and 0.75m-1.5m thick. To the east of the large irregular stone circle is the second stone avenue. This has seven stone settings together with a number of stone fragments at the south western end which are likely to represent the remains of an eighth standing stone; there is at least one additional stone which is now buried in the south eastern area. This avenue is 25m long and 10m wide and is orientated east-west leading down an incline away from the large irregular stone circle towards the flood plain of the River Chew. This avenue is crossed at right angles by a hollow way which dates to the medieval period. In addition to the two stone circles and two associated avenues located here, the Stanton Drew complex also includes a further stone circle and a cove which are situated to the south west and west respectively.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Burl, A, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1976), 105
Burl, A, The Stone Circles of the British Isles, (1976), 105
Grinsell, L V, The Stanton Drew Stone Circles and associated monuments, (1985), 2
Grinsell, L V, The Stanton Drew Stone Circles and associated monuments, (1985), 2
Grinsell, L V, The Stanton Drew Stone Circles and associated monuments, (1985), 2
Grinsell, L V, The Stanton Drew Stone Circles and associated monuments, (1985), 2
Grinsell, L V, The Stanton Drew Stone Circles and associated monuments, (1985), 2
Grinsell, L V, The Stanton Drew Stone Circles and associated monuments, (1985), 2


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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