The Nine Stones: a small concentric stone circle 750m west of Winterbourne Abbas
- 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 17-Oct-2019 at 10:14:10.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- West Dorset (District Authority)
- Winterbourne Abbas
- National Grid Reference:
- SY 61078 90429
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 carefully
designed and laid out, 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. A small stone
circle comprises a regular or irregular ring of between 7 and 16 stones with a
diameter of between 4 and 20 metres. They are widespread throughout England
although clusters are found on Dartmoor, the North Yorkshire Moors, in the
Peak District and in the uplands of Cumbria and Northumberland. Of the 250 or
so stone circles identified in England, over 100 are examples of small stone
circles. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into
prehistoric ritual activity, all surviving examples are worthy of
The Nine Stones stone circle is a well known example of its class. It survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was constructed. The stone circle is one of only four examples known to survive within the area, and its location in a valley bottom is unusual.
The monument includes a small irregular stone circle situated in a valley
bottom in the area of the South Dorset Downs, close to the South Winterbourne
The stone circle, commonly known as the `Nine Stones', was first recorded in
the 18th century by J Aubrey, W Stukeley and W Hutchins, all of whom
described the site much as it appears today. The stones, which are of sarsen
or conglomerate, are arranged in an approximate circle with a maximum internal
diameter of 8m. The stones are between 1.5m to 0.5m in width and 1.5m to 0.45m
in height, although all are partially buried and may be larger than the extent
of exposure would suggest. The two largest stones are situated within the
northern and western areas of the monument; both have dimensions of
approximately 1.5m by 1.5m. The stone settings are, in general, spaced at 1m
intervals around the periphery of the circle, although the gap of 3m on the
northern side of the monument may indicate a possible entrance.
Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts and gates relating to the
field boundaries and the information notice board, 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:
Mention of records from 18th century,
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