By now the threatening skies of earlier have turned to a persistent drizzle, and contact with any vegetation leads to an immediate soaking. I decide to leave the road and Avenue and instead head east to look for the scant remains of Falkner’s Circle.
A path leads round the margin of the field, eventually reaching a gateway where a single standing stone marks the position of the poor old circle. Nettles surround it, neglected and lost, a sad survivor with no-one to talk to. I’d like to come back on a less gloomy day, perhaps in the winter when the nettles have gone. It doesn’t feel like a place to linger today though.
Park in the lay-by at the end of the remaining stones of the Avenue.
There is a wooden sign directing you across the road and along the edge of a cultivated field. This takes you straight to the remains of the circle – 5 minute walk.
This is another one of those sites that I have wanted to visit for some time. When visiting Avebury I usually get sucked in by the lure of the stone circle / Silbury Hill / WKLB etc but this time I was determined to visit Falkner’s Circle – or more to the point, what remains of it.
I headed down the side of the field with Sophie and Dafydd in tow. The edge of the field was a sea of nettles and as all 3 of us were in shorts we had to tread carefully. On the way both myself and Sophie got our legs stung. Dafydd was far too sensible for this to happen to him as he beat the nettles back with a stick!
We soon reached the remaining stone from the circle which is next to a hedge and an old wooden gate post. Such were the mass and height of the nettles around the stone that we could see, but not touch the stone. A winter’s visit would be easier on the legs.
It may not be much to look at but it felt good to have finally visited this site.
I was amazed I'd not seen this before given how close it actually is to the road. On return to the car, I found that the remaining stone of the circle can actually be seen from the road. I'd expected it to be much further up the hill toward the Ridgeway for some reason.
I'd parked at the end of West Kennet Avenue and just followed the new signpost to "Falkner's Circle 1/4 mile".
On the way I saw the hedgerow stone pictured by stubob, but devoid of the vegetation in his photo (see my picture). Oh, and there was a crop circle just to the south, but it looked a bit 'amateurish' to my eye, kind of incomplete...
Access pretty short distance (a few hundred yards?) along a fairly rough field edge track.
Monday 15 September 2003
Well I've been to a fair few damaged, ruined, wrecked and virtually non-existent circles, but this is right up there with the most underwhelming. Still worth a visit though.
As well as the general lack of stones, it's difficult to even imagine which direction the circle would have lain, though I felt the angle of the stone gave a strong clue. My mate John wasn't so sure - making the point that the stone only needs to have moved a relatively tiny amount to be totally misleading....
I feel sorry for anyone who doesn't know exactly what they should expect! I knew exactly what to expect and if it wasn't for the little 'Pogles Wood' style sign by the remaining stone, I still might have been disappointed!
Visited 10th May 2003: We parked at the end of the restored stretch of the West Kennett Avenue and Flotsky and I took a brisk stroll to what remains of Falkner's Circle. The weather kept changing while we were there, and when it chose to be sunny the light was brilliant and crisp. Surprisingly pleasant, given the amount of destruction this place has had inflicted on it.
Visited 10th May 2003: Taken here with Kammer, this is a blink and you'll miss it spot from the road. There is a little layby to the right of the road here where you need to stop, turn to your left and see the hedgerow that you will need to follow to get here.
As you walk along the hedgerow, you can see the remnants of a wall made from a reddish-brown stone. Bare this in mind as you get there. You come across the little wooden sign and stone. It is at an angle to the hedgerow, and you get a feeling for the idea of the curve of the stone circle. It does seem embedded in the ground to a similar degree as the older placed stones at Avebury, so you can feel it is what is left there may be where it was originally. It is in parts the same colour as a lot of the stones from the aforementioned wall.
If you are taking in the wider surroundings of Avebury, it would be a shame to miss this stone.
[visited 19/4/3] Another ruined circle with Sarsens in hedge rows nearby and lonely survivors standing proud. Bizarre to find it so close to Avebury however, WK avenue is clearly visible, yet somehow seems to ignore this circle.
No purpose is apparent given the location, but who said anything had to make sense.
How strange that a stone circle only 500 metres from the great henge at Avebury should be so unnoticed.
Every day dozens of people walk down the West Kennett Avenue, unaware that this circle was ever here, let alone that a stone still stands.
The OS map marks it as 'Stone Circle (rems of)', with a single black dot to indicate the remaining stone.
If you come down the Avenue from Avebury, look across the road to your left. About 200 metres along the tree line in the field you'll see the stone. If you go to the end of the stones (as they stand today), cross over and follow the hedge/fence.
At a bend in the tree line there's a gap in the hedge for access between the fields. This access runs right through the site of Falkner's Circle. A small wooden sign is nailed to the fence post to mark the spot, and several large sarsens lie around. The one remaining stone is wider than it is tall, being about 6 feet by 4 feet. Sadly, it lies just on the north side of the field boundary, i.e. just outside the National Trust owned land, and so vulnerable to farming mistreatment.
And what a strange spot. Right on the valley floor, the squat stone suits the snug location.
But what was this place? Some two hundred metres off-route for the Avenue to Avebury lacking the commanding and/or central feeling that is so common in other stone circles.
In 'The Avebury Cycle', Michael Dames suggests that it is perhaps to do with the midsummer sunrise. The sunrise would come over the eastern horizon (directly between two Bronze Age barrows), and a line could come through this circle, the stone in the Avenue known as 35N (uniquely not set flat-side inwards, but at a right angle to the others with a pointing edge to the east), across Waden Hill and to the summit of Silbury.
To me, this place is another discovery that makes me believe I really will never be fully familiar with all the monuments and features of the Avebury landscape, let alone divine their purpose.
I read in Maud Cunnington's 'Introduction to the Archaeology of Wiltshire' (1949) that "Falkener's Circle [sic] formerly stood in a field called Waylen's Penning."
I know. It could have just been a man called Waylen who owned the field. But what if it's to do with Waylen = the mythological smith Wayland? and the original circle was where he penned his animals? Information to confirm / deny this is welcome...
(SU 10976931) Stone Circle (NR)(remains of) (1)
A standing stone is all that remains of a former circle of stones known as 'Falkner's Circle'. (2)
It is situated about 280 yds east of the West Kennett Avenue, and was described by Falkner in 1840 as consisting of one stone standing, and two recumbent, with the holes of nine others visible (see plan). The ground within the 120 ft diameter circle was completely flat.(3) No change. Published 1:2500 survey correct. (4) Falkner's Circle described simply by Burl as "12 stones set in a 36.6m ring. One stone has survived the intensive farming of the 19th and 20th centuries" (5). Barnatt notes that any stoneholes are now untraceable due to ploughing. (6) Malone (7) refers to the monument as the 'Faulkener ring', and states that it was associated with a neaby barrow (presumably SU 16 NW 44 or 67) and further suggests that the circle 'may date from the early Bronze Age, or the Beaker period'. No excavation has occurred, so dating and association with nearby monuments as well as the original form of the monument, remain uncertain. (5-7)
Falkner's Circle, Wiltshire. Report on Geophysical Surveys, 2002 and 2003
Number of: Pages 7 Figures 8
In March and May of 2002, geophysical surveys were conducted around a standing stone believed to be the last remnant of Falkner's Circle, near Avebury, Wiltshire. Several discrete anomalies lying on an arc approximately 44m in diameter were identified and found to be either post medieval destruction pits or possible stone sockets when excavated in the summer of 2002. An extension to the survey area in 2003 has revealed further similar anomalies, although no obvious patterning was evident.