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

A Scheduled Monument in Stanton Drew, Bath and North East Somerset

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Latitude: 51.3672 / 51°22'2"N

Longitude: -2.5756 / 2°34'32"W

OS Eastings: 360025.333824

OS Northings: 163287.508385

OS Grid: ST600632

Mapcode National: GBR JR.T2TV

Mapcode Global: VH891.9WRR

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

Scheduled Date: 18 August 1882

Last Amended: 9 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1007911

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22856

County: Bath and North East Somerset

Civil Parish: Stanton Drew

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


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.

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.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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.

Source: Historic England


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

Source: Historic England

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