Whoo-hooo.......... Found it! How I managed to NOT find it on my last visit is now a bit of a mystery!
Park in the small lay-by just before the cattle grid leading to Gorwell Farm (room for two cars). All you then need to do is follow the signposted bridleway, remembering to go through the wooden gate in front of you as the graveled track bends round to the right. Stay on the bridleway (starts a bit rough but eventually flattens out) and it will take you straight to the stone circle. (In a signposted field on your right)
I am sooooo pleased to have finally got here. This has been something of a 'monkey on my back' for the last two years and something I have wanted to put right. The late afternoon weather had a very late autumn/early winter feel about it. Grey overcast clouds, with a cold, biting wind. It took me 25 minutes to walk from the car to the circle.
As for the stone circle itself, I counted 18 stones of various size and shape. I have no idea if these are 18 different stones or represent fragmented parts of fewer stones? In all honesty the circle itself isn't a 'classic' by any means but at least it is still with us and it does occupy a 'classic' stone circle location - a level area in a prominent position. If the nearby trees and hedges were removed there would be decent 360 degree over the surrounding countryside.
That's another English Heritage site ticked off the list - only 119 to go! It also feels good to get rid of that monkey................ :)
In order to access the site we parked at the turn-off from Bishop's Road towards Gorwell Farm (50.678776 -2.583842) The farmer paid a considerable sum of money to have his access track asphalted so do not cross the cattle grid ! : ) A bridle path, accessed via the track to the right, through a wooden gate immediately to the left, runs along side four fields and leads directly to the stone ring. It is quite a long rough walk so plastic calf boots are advised, winter and summer as the field containing the ring may be heavily sown with cow pats, some of which are hidden under clumps of grass! A couple of these were discovered by treating in them! Urrgh. We took along a couple of folding picnic chairs so we could stop, rest, and admire the country side.
Once there the scenery alone makes the trek worth while, and what we found was an irregular circular shape with midsummer, spring/autumn sunrise orientation noted. Appears to have been ruined, with no reconstruction as some stones have sunk into the ground, although the ground here is rocky with considerable broken flints, and provides a firm base. There is a faint mark of a ditch on one side of the circle (South) but no bank, so this may be the result of regular ploughing with the furrow turned away from the stones. The size of the structure indicates a small Neolithic population of a few hundred.
Agricultural weather/season indicator -
The stones are roughly comparable in size and do not appear to have been broken up, so the original number may have been as today - 18. If 18 stones are placed equidistance from one another in a circle then the angular distance between each is 20 degrees. This could align with the sunrises as shown in the diagrams.
Thus this site has the potential to be aligned to the sunrises if arranged in a symmetrical circle. However it's irregular placements of the stones makes it appear that it has been wrecked long long ago. If the stones were placed regularly and positioned from the midsummer sunrise then the alignment would be as in the diagram below of a hypothetical original structure. Please see diagrams in the diagram section.
Sacred site -
An interesting feature is an unusually shaped stone (stone 13 in the diagrams) that appears to have been roughly carved, although it is now considerably weathered. There appears to be a head and a bosom with a cleavage, and baby bump, with the back curved as per a human woman. Four stones in a line (9 to 12) of diminishing size give a distinct impression of a stone family. A further stone (14) next to the shaped stone 13 is blunt with 'masculine features'. We can be no more specific on this family site! : ) Thus this would seem to be a sacred structure, perhaps built as a development of an original one. Please see photos.
I am gutted about failing to find the stone circle.
We managed to arrange a short two-day break away (without the children!) on the south coast.
This was due to be the first ‘major’ site on my itinerary for the two days but due to the awful weather I rescheduled the plans which basically meant we did things in reverse order. So, instead of being the first site to visit it became the last – which (at least partly) was the reason for my failure.
It was not clear from the map which was the best route to the circle. From the south or from the north?
It looked about the same distance walk so I opted for the approach from the south as I would be able to take in the Grey Mare and her Colts on the way. (Despite being an E.H. site they give no information on the best way to approach the circle – despite an e-mail to them requesting advice). Unfortunately I had not read dickie's directions beforehand – mistake.
After visiting the Grey Mare I continued north through the fields (but not as I should have done along the bridleway). After crossing the first field I was met by a large field in crop. I was able to walk part-way into the field along a track but there was no way through it without causing damage – something I wasn’t prepared to do. I re-traced my steps but could find no other way past the field of crop.
Due to time constraints I discounted the longer walk past Gorwell Farm as I needed a more direct route.
I decided to return to the car and attempt an approach from the north. We weaved our way through the maze of unsignposted lanes and followed the road as far as we could. Unfortunately about 1 mile before where the O/S map shows the road ends and the footpath starts the road turns into a very rough track – suitable only for 4x4s.
I simply didn’t have time for this extra walk as we had to get back for the children. I was very, very disappointed.
The next time I visit I will take the rout via Gorwell Farm. Although it may be longer than dickie's directions it involves the shortest distance ‘off road’. Given my poor orientation skills this probably gives me the best chance of success!
I would be happy to hear the advice of others who have visited as to which is the best route to take.
I guess you win some, you lose some………………… Still gutted though!
After the surprisingly wonderful ruined circle at Rempstone I have to say that I was slightly under-whelmed by Kingston Russell, not a feeling that I’m used to when encountering prehistoric sites. Did Burl have the same feeling too? Maybe that’s why it doesn’t appear in his book. It just didn’t seem to have the oomph factor and the views from this setting are kind of so-so rather than wow! (as at Hampton). I think possibly the flatness of it all as well, the anticipation built up by the spotting of two very large stones in the hedgerow (one next to the farm entrance where you can just about park and the other about half way between there and the circle) and the lack of a dramatic sky to set it off probably didn’t help either. The only thing that I thought might redeem it would be to go there at night with a clear sky, some time in the near future, and try some very long exposures. That should do it.
Maybe it's just the time of year but Kingston Russell seems much more visible on the approach from The Grey Mare & Her Colts than last time I was here, perhaps when the tree leaves , and hedges grow back and the grass is longer it would be as I remember it.
There was no sign of the sign here anymore either, a circle without the sign, even better!
Along with Hampton Down what I noticed most on this trip was the other ancient monuments all in view from each of these sites, their interconnectedness in the landscape. You might argue that this is because a lot of the monuments are on hills but the view between them only really opens up within the circles themselves.
From standing in the center of Kingston Russell I have a view all the way across to Abbotsbury, Golden Cap, Seatown and Lyme Regis.
Just two fields away from The Grey Mare lies Kingston Russell stone circle. The world's leading authority on stone circles, Aubrey Burl, didn't put this circle in his definitive field guide to British stone circles which has caused much puzzlement in the amateur antiquarian community over the years. I wanted to see the stones for myself, especially as Moth said he liked it so much.
Sadly not one of the stones stand any more, but there are lots of stones to see, perhaps 18 of them, some really quite big lying on the ground next to the place where they once stood. The circle's diameter is about 15ms (I'm quite bad at guessing these things). This would have been a real beauty. And actually, it still is. The internal space is still clearly marked out and although the drama and life was destroyed by whoever pulled the stones down, the circle is not yet dead. I liked it a lot. The farmer had just been and mowed carefully round the circle and the place smelled fabulous.
Re-erect them stones!
This post appears as part of the weblog entry Dorset dash
Access getting on for a couple of miles walking I guess. Visit Grey Mare and her Colts on the way. Fairly flat and good going along a bridlepath. Could get fairly muddy. OS map helpful.
We parked at a junction between lane, farm track and bridlepath at SY499868. Dickie gives good directions here. (The barrow he refers to is of course, the Grey Mare and her Colts.)
Thursday 18 September 2003
We weren't expecting much. After all, it's not even in Burl...!
WRONG!!!!! Having since read the reports on this website, I know we're not alone, but we thought this is an unsung marvel. I'd not researched it, just spotted it on the Landranger earlier in the day while doing a bit of 'on the hoof' planning....
So OK, all the stones are down, but they're BIG, there're loads of them and they form (get this) a BIG CIRCLE!!!! Looked like the views would be superb on a clear day too!!!!
Where we got lucky was that the field was well stocked with (stop reading Ocifant!) stubborn but placid, big but hungry cows. And the reason this was lucky is that they had obviously been grazing here for quite a while and the circle was not overgrown AT ALL, making viewing it much easier!
After stomping around the circle taking photos, our bovine friends finally took the hint and left the circle, meaning I had the opportunity to take the same photos without the friesian ornamentation. Which, of course, I had to do.
For the record (in the absence of Burl providing statistics) and as a shock for anyone who knows me, we paced out the diameter of the circle and made it around 26-28 yards across. I also uncharacteristically counted the stones and made it 18 OR 19 - diplomatic huh? (See other fieldnotes below.)
We did however wonder if some of these stones were broken parts, and reckoned that the original circle may have 'only' been 16 stones. As the vast majority, if not all, seem to have been around 5 feet or more high, this wouldn't have taken away from what would have been a pretty spectacular circle!
Another one that I'd love to see re-erected!!!! I'm soooo glad we didn't miss it!!!!
Yeah, it's all kind of flat really. But great setting, the circle was overgrown so the stones were all but invisible other than when stood on top of each. The overgrown form however stands out in the otherwise kempt field. Didn't notice any sign of previously mentioned outer bank/ditch. I actually counted 19 stones but lets not get into one of those debates.
Hope the directions below help (also for Grey Mare & Her Colts that have been particularly illusive to me)
On the road to Abbotsbury from the A35 at Winterbourne Abbas, after a signpost right for Littlebredy and before you get to Portesham (see parking notes for Hell Stone) , there is a left turn signposted for the Hardy Monument. At this junction take the (very)minor road to the right (west). After about a mile the road bends sharply to the left and follows the valley round. At that point there is a layby to park. Return back up the road to the footpath that head NW up the hill. Shortly up this path you are faced with a 3-way split. The Public Footpath heads through a Private Farm. Take the Bridleway that heads straight on and hug the hedge to your left. After about 400yds there's a footpath through the hedge on the left. Follow this for about a hundred yards and the barrow is over another hedge.
Return to bridelway and follow for another 3/4 mile and just before the large clump of trees Kingston Russell Stone Circle is in a field on the left through a gated gap in the hedge.
The other stone circle that people have referred to below, is the Hampton circle. Its referred to on this website as Hampton Down.
No one seems to be able to agree on its name. TMA refers to it as Hampton Hill Stone Circle on page 213, and Hampton Down on page 128. Aubrey Burl, in his 1995 book, A Guide to Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany refers to it as Hampton Down Stone Circle (pages 67 and 68). The OS map (Explorer OL15. 596865) refers to it as simply Hampton Stone Circle.
PS - Burl also doesn't include Kingston Russell in his book and his book is supposed to have all but the fake or badly ruined. Very strange.
Strangely this is marked on several Road Atlases despite it being over a kilometre from any road (and a very minor road at that), and no obvious way to get there without an OS map or good instructions.
18 recumbent stones in a very circular circle (if you get what I mean). Looks like an info board was there, but now just a short metal pole. Mix of medium and small stones, all from same type of stone (not that I'm a geologist). In a cow field which makes the pic from Joolio Geordio interesting coz in that one it's been prepared for crops. Very chilled out. Excellent views. I guess Julian had a reason not to put this in TMA?
This is a wonderful circle situated at the end (or start) of a 3 mile walk encompassing The Grey Mare, The Hellstone and another stone circle. I recommend following the proper footpath as the path coming from the North towards it (marked on the OS map) is effectively non-existent.
Whilst you are here, make sure you visit the site marked 'Enclosure' on the OS map. To find this from the circle, head north down the side of the field away from the circle and perpendicular to the path. On the other side of the field go through the gate and head left. Keep walking past some sinkholes? until you reach the crest of the hill. You should find a horseshoe shaped banked enclosure about 15-20 feet across overlooking the most amazing view.
The circle was special but the view from the enclosure was something else entirely. Wow.
If anyone has any ideas about what this may have been, I'd love to know...
I visited the Kingston Russell stone circle on a sunny Saturday, on a walk to include the Grey mare and her Colts, just down the bridle path.
The Kingston Russell circle isn't in the Antiquarian, but it should be. Overlooking the village of Abbotsbury and the English Channel across beautiful West Dorset, the location is superb.
There are 18 stones, all now lying flat, still in a clear circle, in a hilltop location, in farmland. All but 2 are sedimentary rock, full of pebbles and shells, the other 2, on the side farthest away from the sea appear to be Granite. Better even than the circle, but unremarked upon on the English Heritage sign (broken) is a clear and complete ditch around the outside of the stones, a clear henge, now only a few inches deep, but surviving for now.
I took Lydis, my 5 yr old daughter, her first circle, she was interested and impressed. I told her it was reputed to be 4000 yrs old, before Christ. So is that before God then she asked?
I had lived 20 minutes drive from this site until I was 18 and never knew it was here before today, it is complete and beautiful and Dorset. Talking to my father later in the day, he has lived in Weymouth all his life, he said it used to be considered a Roman Temple. It definitely isn't that.
If you had to drag a bunch of megaliths up a hill and dig a ditch. for any reason, spiritual or secular, there wouldn't be many better places to do it, the views, under the local landmark of Hardy's monument and absolutely beautiful, are reason enough to visit, but it's a great circle as well. It's easily signposted on a bridle path and worth the walk.
Those Neolithic construction workers had incredible views when they ate their sandwiches.
(centred SY 57818776) Stones (NAT) (Three shown). (1) There is no apparent archaeological significance in these stones. The only surviving conglomerate is the most westerly one, a sarsen 1.2m long, 0.7m wide and 0.3m thick. It is just possible that the stone had some connection with the stone circle to the NW but this seems doubtful. (2) Like the stones of the circle, the remaining stone is prostrate. It is too far from the hedge to be the result of field clearing. (3)
Two stones of a similar kind to those comprising Kingston Russell Stone Circle (SY 58 NE 6) "from whence they seem to have been displaced", lie by the side of an adjoining fence. (4)
(SY 57788782) Stone Circle (NR) (1)
Called Kingston Russell circle. Stones of sarsen with many flints and water worn pebbles (one at least quartize), a
conglomerate - all are prone. (2) Kingston Russell Stone Circle consists of eighteen fallen
conglomerate (5) or sarsen (4) stones, the largest of which is about 8 feet long forming an irregular oval 80 feet by 91 feet (5) or 80 feet by 60 feet (4). In 1815 one stone to the south was still standing. The circle appears to retain its full number of stones although many of them may not be in their true positions. Listed as especially worthy of preservation (5).
Two stones of a similar kind to those comprising the circle lie by the side of an adjoining fence (see SY 58 NE 7). (3-5)
A newly erected notice at the site consists of a Ministry of Works plate with the name Kingston Russell Stone Circle. There are eighteen stones, one small one in addition to those on the OS 1:2500 and all are as depicted on Authority 5's plan. All the stones, of conglomerate and sarsen, are prone. The circle is situated upon downland. (6)
At Kingston Russell Circle there were originally between fourteen and eighteen stones around the circumference of a ring 91 feet in diameter but it is now impossible to decide which of the fragments are bases and which are broken upper parts. Although it cannot be certain it seems that this ring was graded in height with the tallest stones at the north. A stone is supposed to have been added to the ring in recent years. Kingston Russell Stone Circle scheduled and under Guardianship. (7) An account of the stone circle as it was in 1815, at which time only one stone was standing, the 'rest being thrown down'. (8) Large irregular stone circle of Late Neolithic or Bronze Age date, consisting of eighteen fallen conglomerate or sarsen stones situated on a chalk ridge 750 metres north east of Gorwell Farm. The circle appears to retain its full number of stones, although many of them may not be in their original positions. Two stones of a similar kind to those comprising the circle lie by the side of an adjoining fence (see SY 58 NE 7). The circle has a diameter of 30 metres and has 18 visible stones. The stones vary in size from 2 metres by 0.5 metres to 1 metre by 0.3 metres, although partial burial may mean some of the stones are significantly larger. Scheduled. (9)
"Set back inland from Abbotsbury, and a brisk walk up the coast path, was the Kingston Russell stone circle, a place so off the map that even Aubrey Burl didn't list it in his authoritative gazetteer, Rings of Stone.
In a corner of a farmer's field, the stones lay a little forlorn. There were seventeen of them, arranged in a careful, elliptical shape mirrored by other stone circles along the Atlantic coast. They had been there some 5,000 years.
The stones had all fallen over. English Heritage, who nominally administered the site, hadn't put up so much as a board to inform visitors what they were looking at. While I was there, three couples passed at intervals, heading for the coast path. They would not have noticed the circle if I hadn't pointed it out.
Yet the stones had a majesty, and much that came from their position. The slight rise in the land meant that there was a clear sight line to the round hills of Beacon Knap and other similar knolls heading west along the coast. I was accustomed to the prehistoric love of mimicry, the circle reflecting the shape of the hills beyond.
Making the landscape yours, stamping ownership on the land by showing that you too can shape it, is a primal human instinct. The power of the sacred landscape, and in this case of the sea as well, can be refracted by a sense of placement, of concentration. There was a feeling at the stone circle of great deliberation - that this was precisely the right place for these stones"
Extract from "The Green Road into the Trees - a walk through England" by Hugh Thomson.