Remains of `Falkner's Circle', a Neolithic stone circle 180m east of the West Kennet Avenue
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 16-Feb-2020 at 20:32:11.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- SU 10975 69313
Reasons for Designation
A small number of areas in southern England appear to have acted as foci for
ceremonial and ritual activity during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age
periods. Two of the best known and earliest recognised, with references in the
17th century, are around Avebury and Stonehenge, now jointly designated as a
World Heritage Site. In the Avebury area, the henge monument itself, the West
Kennet Avenue, the Sanctuary, West Kennet long barrow, Windmill Hill
causewayed enclosure and the enigmatic Silbury Hill are well-known. Whilst the
other Neolithic long barrows, the many Bronze Age round barrows and other
associated sites are less well-known, together they define one of the richest
and most varied areas of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and ritual
monuments in the country.
Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of standing or recumbent stones. The circle of stones may be surrounded by earthwork features such as enclosing banks and ditches. 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. 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.
Only 250 or so stone circles of all sizes have been identified in England and as a rare monument type which provides an important insight into prehistoric ritual activity all surviving examples are worthy of preservation. `Falkner's Circle' is situated close to the West Kennet Avenue, between the Avebury henge and stone circle monuments and the `Sanctuary' on Overton Hill. The surviving stone represents the only surviving portion of the original circle and provides a focal point against which the documentary material provided by Falkner, Stukeley and others can be understood. In addition, there is a possibility that some of the other elements of the circle will survive below ground despite years of cultivation; further discoveries in the vicinity might justify an extension of the protected monument at a future date.
The monument includes a single standing sarsen stone situated 180m east of the
West Kennet Avenue, south east of the Avebury henge monument, forming the
only visible remains of what was once a stone circle. Although the presence
of the stone circle is recorded on early plans, it cannot be accurately
located and therefore only the visible remains are currently recommended for
scheduling. The stone survives within a hedgeline while the surrounding area
has been cleared of stones and levelled by cultivation. The stone measures 1m
across and stands c.1.2m high. Fragments of sarsen stones scattered along the
hedgeline are probably the remains of other stones which originally formed
part of the circle.
The monument was described by Falkner in 1840 and there is also a plan drawn
by W Long which shows that this stone was originally part of a circle of at
least 12 stones with a diameter of c.37m. Falkner lists, in addition to the
surviving stone, two recumbent stones and nine holes from which stones had
been extracted. The area between and around these stones was flat in 1840 and
there was no surface indication of a ditch or bank being present.
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, 'History of Wiltshire' in Stone Circles, , Vol. 1 pt 1, (1957)
Long, W, 'Magazine' in Falkner's Circle, , Vol. 4, (1858)
SU 16 NW 105, CAO, Stone Circle, (1989)
SU 16 NW 34, RCHM(E), Falkner's Circle, (1973)
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