|Visited 22 May 2010
I had arranged to spend today with my oldest and closest female friend for a general potter in the vicinity of Oxford. A beautiful summer's day rolled out before us and I suggested we do a detour to Stanton Harcourt to see the 'reconstructed' stone circle I had read so much about. I knew from previous TMA posts that it was next to a recycling plant near Stanton Harcourt so we were soon tootling around the lake towards the layby opposite a portacabin office. As we pulled up a man in a yellow jacket came out in our direction, my friend said in her best posh voice "We've come to see the stone circle". He was obviously taken with her as he couldn't have been more helpful, telling us where to park and where to walk. A few minutes later he reappeared with a rather attractive information sheet produced by Wardell Armstrong, the engineering company responsible for reinstating the site. The leaflet headed "Dix Pit Landfill Devil's Quoits" explained the background to the project; the Devil's Quoits Circle had been one of the most important Henge sites in Britain dating back four and half thousand years, used by the local people from the Thames Valley Region. The circle was some 75m in diameter with a two metre ditch and outer Henge bank surrounding them. The three original stones were geologically assessed and the new stones were sourced locally from the same conglomerate stone.
We set off along the gravel path – lake, willows and wild fowl on one side and fairly new tree plantation on the other. The circle itself was unlike any I have yet seen; even in the brilliant mid-day sunshine the landfill site in the background initially gave it a stark feel, however, this soon disappeared. Within minutes of our arrival a pair red kites soared overhead and glided down as low as I have ever seen red kites. Their interest was clearly the landfill site but what a display. They glided on thermal currents giving us a splendid view of their reddish brown tail feathers which strangely enough echoed the colour of the stones.
Seen from the far Henge bank the circle comes to life and the knowledge that it will still be there in another hundred years when the landfill has long since been abandoned was very satisfying. Later we sat on the stones near the entrance stile while I made a few notes - my friend called for me to look up … the kites had returned to give us yet another magnificent aerial display.
A great day … and many thanks to the lovely people we met earlier who gave us clear and accurate directions.
Footnote: The gates of the recycling plant close at 5.00pm (on Saturday anyway) so only day time visits are viable by car.
Posted by tjj
22nd May 2010ce
Edited 23rd May 2010ce