Large irregular stone circle at Stanton Drew south east of Church 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 59919 63070
Reasons for Designation
Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of
upright or recumbent stones. The circle of stones may be surrounded by
earthwork features such as enclosing banks and ditches. Single upright stones
may be found within the circle or outside it and avenues of stones radiating
out from the circle occur at some sites. Burial cairns may also be found close
to and on occasion within the circle. Stone circles are found throughout
England although they are concentrated in western areas, with particular
clusters in upland areas such as Bodmin and Dartmoor in the south-west and the
Lake District and the rest of Cumbria in the north-west. This distribution may
be more a reflection of present survival rather than an original pattern.
Where excavated they have been found to date from the Late Neolithic to the
Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000 BC). It is clear that they were designed and
laid out carefully, frequently exhibiting very regularly spaced stones, the
heights of which also appear to have been of some importance. We do not fully
understand the uses for which these monuments were originally constructed but
it is clear that they had considerable ritual importance for the societies
that used them. In many instances excavation has indicated that they provided
a focus for burials and the rituals that accompanied interment of the dead.
Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function, helping mark the
passage of time and seasons, this being indicated 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 a suggestion that each one provided some
form of tribal gathering point for a specific social group. Large irregular
stone circles comprise a ring of at least 20 stone uprights. The diameters of
surviving examples range between 20 and 40 metres, although it is known that
larger examples, now destroyed, formerly existed. The stone uprights of this
type of circle tend to be more closely spaced than in other types of circle
and the height and positioning of uprights also appears not to have been as
important. They are widely distributed throughout England although in the
south they are confined largely to the west. Of the 250 or so stone circles
identified in England only 45 examples of large irregular circles are known.
As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric
ritual activity all surviving examples are worthy of preservation.
The large irregular stone circle south east of Church Farm survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. This site represents an integral part of the Stanton Drew complex and as such will contribute to our understanding of later prehistoric activity within this area.
The monument includes a large irregular stone circle situated on a low ridge
overlooking a dry valley to the south and the valley of the River Chew to the
east. The circle lies 138m to the south west of the main complex of stone
circles and associated avenues at Stanton Drew.
The monument has 13 stones irregularly spaced producing a sub-oval plan with
a diameter of 45m. Many of these stones are now recumbent, although they are
likely to have originally been standing. The stones include dolomitic
conglomerate, sandstone and oolitic limestone blocks which could all have been
collected from within six miles of the site. There is one stone visible within
the centre of the site and this is likely to relate to a central setting which
has become buried.
The monument has been in State care since 1883.
Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts which relate to field
boundaries, although the underlying ground is included.
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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
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