Three of the Priddy Circles and one barrow, 400m west of Castle Farm

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015498

Date first listed: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 31-Jan-1997

Map

Ordnance survey map of Three of the Priddy Circles and one barrow, 400m west of Castle Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

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

County: Somerset

District: Mendip (District Authority)

Parish: Priddy

National Grid Reference: ST 54011 52781

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The Priddy Circles are considered to be henge monuments, but have unique characteristics which distinguish them from other henges. Excavation of the southern circle has provided evidence of the excellent preservation of features relating to the construction of the circles. Henges are ritual or ceremonial centres which date to the Late Neolithic period (2800-2000 BC). They were constructed as roughly circular or oval shaped enclosures comprising a flat area over 20m in diameter enclosed by a ditch and external bank. The ditches of the Priddy Circles are external, each enclosing an area 180m-200m in diameter. One, two or four entrances provided access to the interior of the henges, which may have contained a variety of features including timber or stone circles, post or stone alignments, pits, burials or central mounds. The entrances to the Priddy Circles appear to have an opposed NNE-SSW orientation. Finds from the ditches and interiors of henges provide important evidence for the chronological development of the sites, the types of activity that occurred within them and the nature of the environment in which they were constructed. Henges occur throughout England with the exception of south eastern counties and the Welsh Marches. Unlike most henges, which are situated on low ground often close to springs and water-courses, the Priddy Circles have an upland location with no fresh water supply apart from ponds.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes three circular earthworks comprising part of the Priddy Circles and one possible barrow, on the Mendip Hills in Somerset. The circles are regarded as Neolithic ritual monuments similar to the henge class of monuments, but having external ditches. The three circles are arranged equidistantly on a NNE-SSW axis. A fourth circle lies some 800m to the NNE, and is the subject of a separate scheduling. The circles were subject to subsidence which may have contributed to their abandonment. The southern circle is 190m-194m in diameter, with an external ditch up to 6m wide and 1.2m deep. The internal bank is up to 7m wide and 1m- 2m high, surrounding a slightly raised interior. Of five gaps in the circuit, the NNE one was proved by excavation to be a causewayed entrance, between timber revetted banks. The central circle is 185m in diameter. The external ditch is slight to the south, but up to 0.5m deep to the north. The bank is 4m-6m wide and stands up to 1m high to the north. The interior is raised slightly above ground level. There are three gaps in the circuit, and one area to the east of major geological disturbance. There is a possible ovoid barrow in the north east quadrant, 14m north-south by 9m east-west, and 0.4m in height. The northern circle of the three is 180m-190m in diameter, the external ditch is well preserved to the south, up to 1m deep and 5m wide, with the bank standing up to 1m above ground level, and up to 7m wide. There are four gaps in the circuit, a possible entrance to the SSW opposing the NNE entrance of the central circle. An excavation in 1956-9 in the southern circle showed the structure of the bank, proved the existence of a causewayed entrance, but failed to find any evidence for use of the interior. A geophysical survey in 1994 investigated part of the southern and central circles, confirming the expected location of ditch and bank. The survey also investigated the area between this monument and the fourth circle to the north but no archaeological features were revealed. Excluded from the scheduling are all walls and fences, though the ground beneath them 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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 29037

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Stanton, W I, 'Proc. of Bristol University Spelaeological Society' in Natural Sinkholes Affecting The Priddy Circles, Mendip, , Vol. 17(3), (1986), 355-358
Stanton, W I, 'Proc. of Bristol University Spelaeological Society' in Natural Sinkholes Affecting The Priddy Circles, Mendip, , Vol. 17(3), (1986), 355-358
Stanton, W I, 'Proc. of Bristol University Spelaeological Society' in Natural Sinkholes Affecting The Priddy Circles, Mendip, , Vol. 17(3), (1986), 355-358
Tratman, E K, 'Proc. of University of Bristol Spelaeological Society' in The Priddy Henge Monument, , Vol. 11(2), (1966), 97-125
Other
Hammon, A J, The Priddy Circles: Re-evaluation, Interpretation & Fieldwork, 1995, Unpub report-part geophysical survey
Hammon, A J, The Priddy Circles: Re-evaluation, Interpretation & Fieldwork, 1995, Unpub report-part geophysical survey

End of official listing