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Three Shire Stones (Reconstruction)

Burial Chamber


This information comes from 'The Date of the Three Shire Stones near Batheaston' by AJH Gunstone, p210 in the Trans Brist/Glouc Arch Soc v82 (1963):

'Most field archaeologists who have studied the site in recent years have suggested' that the megalith was built in the early 18th century reusing stones from some ruined chambered tomb in the district, possibly the one drawn and described by Aubrey in the mid 17th century (see TBGAS 79 p1/18 for a sketch).

There are three small dressed stones inside, each dated 1736 and with the initial of one of the three counties.

"Completion of the project in February 1859 was given wide publicity in local newspapers and national journals and these reports added that in the hole excavated for the upright stone on the Gloucestershire side three skeletons and a coin of James II were found."

And here is part of a letter referring to the newly spruced up monument:
Bath. Nov 17th 1858.
For the last 120 years the only index to mark the junction of the 3 Counties of Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire on Bannerdown [..] consisted of three Stones of the dimensions ordinarily used for mere stones in Common field lands; and they were in such a position that travellers could not possibly be attracted by them; and that even those, who knew of their existence, could not at once discover them.

[..] it was resolved that a Cromlech should be erected over the old stones [..]
The total cost was £34 5s and 8d. I thought it was rather nice that "Dinner to the Workmen" was listed as one of the expenses.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th December 2006ce
Edited 4th December 2006ce

Comments (1)

Out of personal interest I am researching a site in South Gloucester called the Three shire stones. Having lived in Marshfield and having heard many different stories I am trying to trace its roots. I have been in contact with all three of the local county archeologists.

So far I have read that it could be a Mesolithic chamber, a Neolithic burial, or simply a marker for the old county boundaries.

In one reference the stones are said to be a sham megalith erected in 1859 built from an earlier marker of 1736, which can be on the Strachey's Somersetshire map of 1736, which shows one stone in each of the old counties.

However, the stones have their first reference in the Saxton map of 1576 showing that they were there at least 123 years before they were supposed to have been first built.

The stones are situated at the side of the old Roman road and in a Roman ditch and not far from the Iron Age camp Bury Wood, which was 32 acres.

Across from the stones in the neighbouring fields are Mesolithic, Neolithic, Iron Age, Bronze Age and Roman finds which roughly follow the same alignment along the brow of the hill looking over into Bath.

The stones were re-constructed in 1736 - and then in 1859 just like any great novel as they were being they set deeper into the soil, under the 'Gloucester's stone, three bodies (burials) were unearthed.

No-one knows what happened or where they went!

Finally, if you're still reading this and have not reached for a drink yet - my question is....

Could the stones mark the site of an early burial chamber, surely with all the evidence of occupation this site should be at least examined by somemone?

What happened to the Burials?

With all the ancient finds surrounding them, there is aonly one other burial chambers nearby, further down the road on the edge of the Bannerdown road, next to it lie the remains of Roman occupation.

I know that the stones are mentioned in Crawfords book of ancient tombs in 1925.

Any more knowledge would be gratefully accepted.
Posted by enthuseit
13th July 2007ce
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