It doesn't seem likely that the stones still standing in Bushey Norwood on Claverton Down were part of the 18th Century racecourse. The map reproduced in the 'University of Bath Site History' by Patrick Crooke(Publ. by Bath University) places the racecourse under the University buildings about 400metres west of the stones.
The standing stones on the north face of the down facing Sols Hill were reputedly accompanied by a stone avenue. Some stones remain in a rough square formation but their origin/purpose is unknown. Nearby are Romano British field sytems. The site has been so disrupted by Roman/Medieval/C18th quarrying etc it's difficult to make any sense of it.
I understand the 'caves' were actually created through mining and are now railed off to protect bat populations. Apparently a modern hermit used to live in one of them (just south of the tv mast) and collect cameras from the local camera shops in the city. When he died many were recovered from his cave - probably the most recent ritual activity to take place here...
Bronze Age burial mounds on either side of the summit imply that the hillside was clear of forest in antiquity.
Walk down Sham Castle Lane and you can here water from the springs coursing under the ground. This lane was the route taken to transport stone from the quarry for the building of Roman Bath. When you come to a crossroads you're on the site where the stone carving of the 3 Sulevae (3 mothers) was discovered - Romano British but maybe marking an ancient shrine to Sul?
Towards Claverton Down there was a field with more standing stones that were unf cleared by a farmer in the last century, before NT acquired the site.
The present stones on C Down were put up for a race course in C18th and by the present day pony club. In the C19th a large oval enclosure thought to be Bronze Age was also discovered, now marked by a very faint rampart.
[visited 22/3/3] What a weird & relaxing site. We found three standing stones and many many piles of stones scattered liberally about the fields. The main field is (I presume) used as a showjumping practice ground & I think some of the piles of stones have been cleared off the open spaces. However at least 2 piles looked like they had had a purpose, quite what I have no idea... RE the row, I was disapointed to see the three stones didn't line up, make of that what you will. They are however beautiful stones, either naturally modified or by hand.
Oh and if you try and find the caves prepare for disapointment, at some point in the last few years someone has put locked railings across the entrance ways. Bah! Another thing to look for is the fort on the golf course, together with small standing stones scattered across it. Unfortunately I was not alone and the cry of beer stopped me finding the stones on the golf course.. next time gadget!!
..Arrived in a field on Claverton Down, near the old race course, those who chose left the carriages and proceeded over the down.. accompanied [by] the Rev. Mr. Scarth, who pointed out the line of the Belgic Boundary (the Wansdyke), and also the trackway through the camp, which was traversed from the south end to that on the east. Standing on the brow of the hill overlooking Bathampton, the rev. gentleman read a portion of a paper on the Belgic settlement, indicating the direction in which the camps of Mays Knowle, Stantonbury, and Little Solsbury stood, and giving of them and other parts of the settlement many particulars of an interesting character.. In traversing what was formerly the stone avenue leading to the temple, or site of judicial assemblies, Mr. Scarth expressed regret that the only few remains should be carried away to form ornaments in gardens, and stated it was only a fortnight previous that a waggon was on the down carrying away the stones. A ruined cromlech, the spring that supplied the camp, and the junction at Batheaston of the two Roman roads from Cirencester and Marlborough, were pointed out to the party..
From p479/480 in The Gentleman's Magazine, July 1856.
1967 Excavation by Geoffrey Wainwright of I/A hillfort on Bathamption Down.
80+ acres univallate fort, plus its relation to a field system was examined. Conclusions were that this was an early hillfort and was probably used as a stock enclosure... The ramparts were small and probably non-defensive, and the banks of the field system overlay the fort banks.
Reading everyones field notes, and if ones speculates, the stone circle would most probably be on the north side near to the river and facing Solsbury Hill, with the avenue(if it existed) leading down to the river. A bit like the missing stones on the other side of Bath, near to the river and facing Kelston Hill.....
I have this on good authority: References to a stone circle on Bathampton Down are apparently vague because one never existed. The many stones lying round the fields here occur completely naturally. The holes in them are also natural, caused by imperfections (e.g. corals) in the oolite wearing away with water drainage after glacial transportation. The "standing stones" shown here were erected in the 1700s as demarcations of the extremities of a two-mile horse racecourse of the time. The stones shown in photos on this site are on Claverton Down (Bushy Norwood etc.), not Bathampton Down. There are more reliable ancient reports of a stone avenue on the northern edge of Bathampton Down (half a mile or so from the stones shown here) but this was seemingly cleared without trace long ago. There are many bronze age, iron age and Roman remains around this plateau, but many have been obliterated. Some of the largest are not shown on current maps, but will have been significant in size. Barrows and roundhouses have been identified and part excavated. I also learned that some of the information on OS maps is quite inaccurate.
Browsing in the dustiest section of Bath library I was reading a book about Somerset that mentioned Bathampton Down. It mentioned an archaeological report about the excavation of a circle of stones - basically the stones of a hut of some sort. I think this might be where the rumours of a stone circle at the site have come from? as everything I've ever seen about it has been utterly vague - perhaps it's just a case of chinese whispers?