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The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas

Stone Circle

<b>The Nine Stones of Winterbourne Abbas</b>Posted by jimitImage © Jimit Aug 2012
Also known as:
  • Nine Ladies
  • The Devil's Nine Stones

Nearest Town:Dorchester (8km E)
OS Ref (GB):   SY6098590492 / Sheet: 194
Latitude:50° 42' 43.7" N
Longitude:   2° 33' 9.53" W


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Tree substantially reduced at Nine Stones


A 200-YEAR-OLD tree at the centre of worship by druids and witches has been chopped down to size after it became diseased.

The 80ft beech at Winterbourne Abbas has been reduced to a 10-metre stump by English Heritage because of fears it would die and fall over... continues...
ShropshireTraveller Posted by ShropshireTraveller
14th March 2007ce

Tree to be removed from Nine Stones Site...

Hi everyone. I live just down the road in the castle-like house nearby to the Stones. Today (10th Jan 07) two men knocked on my door from English Heritage. They proceeded to tell me that a large tree on the site has a deadly fungus and it has to be removed. Although I have full access to the site, (as the woodland backs onto my front garden) I shamefully have never visited it.... so I wonder if removing the tree will make an impact on the ambience of the place??
Posted by moonchild84
10th January 2007ce

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Fieldnotes

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It is no longer possible to visit the circle via the A35 and over the little bridge which is gone.

The gate is sealed and a sign directs to access via the Little chef and path- a bit late if you didn't know! But probably a good thing as it had to be one of them more dangerous routes to a circle.
nix Posted by nix
5th November 2013ce

Visited 13.10.12

As recommended we parked at the Little Chef and Karen and the children enjoyed some refreshments while I headed through the gate and across the field to the trees where this stone circle lives. (5 minute walk)

It is a well maintained site with a fence surrounding the circle for protection and the grass kept short. Despite the very close proximity of the busy A35 it wasn’t long before the calming atmosphere of the place takes you over and you even stop noticing the cars screaming past.

As with most of the places I visited this weekend I had the site to myself which was nice. Particularly this site as it is a place to sit and ponder. The sky was blue with white fluffy clouds floating by; the October sunshine filtering through the leaves. Saplings have been planted along the roadside to shelter the circle even more and a sign has been put up asking people to access via the Little Chef and not by climbing over the fence.

The first thing to strike me was the stones themselves. I have never seen stones made up of so much flint – quite strange. The next thing was the large (dead?) tree which had had its branches cut off. There were masses of toad stools growing out of the base of the tree.

Looking at the stones one by one I discovered an egg ‘offering’ had been placed in a small crevice. The stones varied in height from about 0.3m to 2m.

This is a good place to visit.
Posted by CARL
17th October 2012ce

I visited the site yesterday for the first time thanks to Julian and his advice about parking in the "Little Chef" carpark. The site is so close to the road and the evidence of the tree being culled was obvious. Despite that it was still one of the most perfect little stone circles that i have ever seen. A hedge or some saplings in the ditch next to the road would help to keep it more private and reduce road noise. I can still imagin how beautiful it would have looked 4000 years ago! Lovely really worth a visit. Posted by sammie
17th February 2012ce

We took to the sanctuary of the tiny Nine stones stone circle, sheltered beneath the branches of a spectacular mature beech tree, with massive fungus colonies sprouting from its roots. It's a very sweet stone circle which was perhaps used by both local people and travellers using the trackway that is now the busy A35.

Some tosser or tossers has chosen to decorate the monument with flowers. One bunch, still wrapped in its sellophane, had been left at the base of the tree. Another bunch had been placed in a log vase in the centre of the circle, around which was arranged some twigs to form the arms of a reversed swastika. Perhaps the same tosser who did this scratched the graffiti at the Hellstone?

Two things: 1. How come the people who apparently have enough 'respect' to lay flowers as some kind of offering at an ancient monument, can't be arsed to respect the 1. environment by taking their sellophane wrappings aways with them? and 2. the feelings of other visitors for who the swastika means nazism and is therefore deeply offensive? You can be sure that the swastika twigs did not stay very long! Moth unwrapped the flowers and took away the sellophane to dispose of correctly.
Jane Posted by Jane
5th November 2006ce
Edited 5th November 2006ce

I don't know how most other people think with regards to 'ghost orbs' and other digital camera peculiarities but I captured an interesting light anomoly and orb at Nine Stones on my visit. I found Akasha's note about a White Lady by the tree very intriging. I have included the photo here to share with others.
The photo was taken at Lammas 2004 and someone has done a ritual earlier with flowers being left at the stones.
Posted by ODALO
14th August 2005ce
Edited 14th August 2005ce

You do risk life and limb getting to this stone circle. When you look at the sketch in the MA you cannot help but think that it is a miracle that the stones survive but a tragedy that they are in this unwanted position where only people like us would dare to visit. Thousands of people roar by every day unaware of the history hidden in the copse by the roadside but at least this way they will survive. One of the stones looks as if it is growing out of the tree which has grown so large beside it.
Noise outside but tranquility inside the stones when I visited 15/7/05 on a red hot day with the sun burning down it felt cool in the shade admiring the stones and wondering.
Posted by jdellis
19th July 2005ce
Edited 20th July 2005ce

June 2004. Warm and sunny.

The stones are tranquil. The sun is beating down and the traffic roaring past and yet inside the circle, you get lost in the ambience of the setting and forget the world outside.

We parked in the farmyard across the road and walked along the roadside verge to the stones and it was a real treat! The manner in which the stones are hidden from the road by the tree cover and low hanging branches hinders the tourist but rewards the stone seeker with a truly fantastic environment.
Posted by MisterPoo
10th November 2004ce

we (charlie and i) visited the nine stones on the 1st of february. after driving past the site a couple of time found that the layby across the road was indeed the best place to park. apart from the narrow strip of grass leading from the little chef there is/was also a deep water filled ditch to contend with if you park in the little chef car park.
being feb there were no leaves on the trees which left a good if little exposed view of the stones. we still found it possible when standing with our backs to the road to forget there was a busy road there at all. There is something very special about this site and the way it made us feel to be there. i took many pictures which i will attept to post should they offer anything not already on this site.
texlahoma Posted by texlahoma
10th February 2004ce

Posted: 07/01/04
We visited 9 stones last night, to find someone had done a ritual recently for the good of the circle which is always nice to see... last time I visited (about a month ago) it wasnt so positive to see that someone had scrawled pentacles on the stones (leave only footprints..? comes to mind.)
I agree that when you first enter the circle its a very unique experience.. very heady and dizzy with energy it takes some getting used to and grounding yourself before you are ready to meditate or work in the circle!
A white lady stands under the tree. x
Posted by akasha
7th January 2004ce

Access difficult. We parked at the Little Chef, as suggested by Julian in the big papery TMA. What he fails to mention is that it's a fair distance (mebbe 300-400 yards) along the very narrow verge of the pretty busy A35. So add my voice to the others saying 'park at the layby'!!!

The very small layby is on the opposite (north) side of the road to the circle but much closer. To actually get to the circle, you have to cross the road and a roadside ditch by a short but rather narrow concrete 'walkway'. Once into the trees surrounding the stones, the ground is fairly uneven.

Thursday 18 September 2003
It might be me, or it might have just been the day I was there, or maybe I was uncharacteristically fazed by the running of the A35 'gauntlet', but I can't agree that this circle had any peace to it!!!! At all.

Which is a shame, because it's a cool little circle of wildly differing stones, the largest of which is a great example of the weird 'gravel-and-flints-welded-together' stone that appears in some of the other 'monuments' in the area. (That's the geological name for it, honest.)

I think I'd be saying that the trees ruin it anyway actually. Don't get me wrong though, I liked it and it's still certainly WELL worth a visit.
Moth Posted by Moth
3rd December 2003ce
Edited 8th January 2004ce

Visited 3rd October 2003

Even at 7:30 in the morning, the A35 is a damn dangerous place! Parking on the wrong side of the road in the 'makeshift layby', I precariously made my way the 50 yards along the road to the small concrete bridge across the ditch to the oasis of calm that is the stones. Despite laying only feet from the roar of the traffic, I was surprised at how little it intruded upon the stones.

A ritual had obviously been performed here the previous evening, as a clear swept circle of leaves remained in the middle of the stones. Unfortunately, the light was all wrong for photographs, and I encountered the same difficulties in taking pictures that I had when trying to photograph the Hoar Stone at Enstone. All were out of focus, with a strong colour cast, despite using a monpod.

Access: Dodgy, even for the fully fit, due to the traffic hazard.
ocifant Posted by ocifant
12th October 2003ce
Edited 12th October 2003ce

I say Park in the lay-by and brave the psychos in lorries.

The site is very sheltered and very missable when charging down the A35.
Me and my best friend love this small circle and have visited it 7-8 times in the last half a year.

We both agree that there is a calm feel to the sight and five of the times that we have been there we have both felt like we were being watched!

Would reccomend this site to be visited at night as the stones take on a different feel. If you do decide to visit at night don't forget to wear some light clothing that shows up un the dark!

P.s in the spring and summer there is alot of wild garlic plants that give the sites a unique smell!!
Posted by Chicken
1st August 2003ce

Winterbourne Nine Stones (4.9.2002)

Lovely once you get there, but a very uncomfortable journey before you get to the safety of the wooded glade.

I would strongly suggest ignoring most other instructions and to actually park at the makeshift lay-by by the entrance to what is listed on the OS Explorer Map OL15 as Grange Farm Dairy (OL15: 621905). It's a much shorter and safer walk to the Stones. The OL15 OS map alone does not make it clear EXACTLY where the Nine Stones are (I didn't have the OS grid reference with me at the time - doh!), and we were not happy at walking up the road / racetrack from the Little Chef not even knowing if we were definitely going in the right direction! So we went and found a better place in the lay-by.

If you really want to park at the Little Chef, rest assured that if you turn left as you walk out of the car park and walk along the road for 400m, you will find the Nine Stones, which are on your left as the woods start.

Ps. The English Heritage website gives these instructions: The parking is located in a small lay-by opposite, next to the barn. Cross the road with care.

By barn I guess they mean the dairy / farm buildings?
pure joy Posted by pure joy
24th November 2002ce
Edited 25th November 2002ce

Made it to this one at last, what a treat(if you survive the road) No feelings of unease for me , the sheltering trees
helping to forget the road and traffic.
Imagine this Dorset landscape without the roads and new(ish) trees .The ridgeway close by and the multitude and variety of barrows. We travelled down to the nine stones from a vist to the Cerne Giant ,a wonderfull ancient landscape!!
Posted by minchin hampton
9th September 2002ce

Visited The 9 on sept 11th (hmm....).While patient wife and baby Liberty waited back at the Little Chef.Nearly got killed by roadraged truckers on route back to the stones...serious autogeddon!Met lovely old couple looking for the site, who'd wisely parked at the nearby barn. Rushed visit, but still was a relaxed feel to these sleepy old stones under the trees. Posted by ruskus
24th November 2001ce

As soon as I set foot within the boundary of this circle I was stopped dead in my tracks and overwhelmed with an unexpected demand for respect and reverence. The sense of power is immense and very alive.

(visited 3rd October 2001)
Posted by soulsong
9th October 2001ce

I used to pass this site often when I lived on the outskirts of Dorchester and one day I decided to stop and have a proper look. Shortly after entering the circle I had a tremendous feeling of unease. Even though I still think it is a wonderful site hidden away and missed by so many which is probably not a bad thing. Posted by Hally24
16th September 2001ce

This is one of those 'blink and you'll miss it' sites tucked away at the side of the road.

I've never actually stopped here but from the road the stones look like huddled ancient conspiracists cloaked in the cover of the encroaching trees. You can almost imagine them coming alive at night and heading outwards in the security of the night.

What shouldn't be forgotten though is the surrounding countryside is littered with barrows of all kinds. Hundreds of them! I have also read somewhere that there used to be another circle in this area - I think Stukeley mentioned it. Certainly, as you head further down the A35 towards the next town, there is a solitary standing stone in a field at the bottom of the road's embankment (you can only see it heading back the other way though!). Can't be sure this is ancient, but its location in the field, and the surrounding landscape it probably is.
Posted by johan
3rd October 2000ce

This circle is so small that it is entirely sheltered by the branches of the beech tree at its southern edge. Situated right beside the A35 (on the south side), visiting this place requires a precarious walk along the pavementless edge of the trunk road. (As well as the Little Chef to park in, there's a nearer spot at the entrance to an inactive farm, across the road and a little east).

There's several things I found to be slightly at variance with the Modern Antiquarian's impression of this place. Stukeley's drawing (reproduced in The Modern Antiquarian) shows only eight stones, but there are definitely nine (albeit the smallest one barely a foot high and being slowly enveloped by the beech tree's roots). John Aubrey reportedly called the stones 'petrified clumps of flints', but only three stones have this flinty-pebbledash look to them. Tellingly, it's the three largest stones. And although Julian Cope is correct in saying that there are massive differences in the heights of the stones, two nearest the road stand way taller than the rest and provide a gateway effect. Between these two stands a tiny stone, looking to me like an arrowhead shape pointing outwards from the gateway.

Despite the rush and roar of the fast traffic on the adjacent main road, there is a heady peacefulness and a tangible tingle to this place.


(Visited 3 August 2000)
Posted by Merrick
6th August 2000ce

Folklore

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.. a Druidical circle called the Nine Stones, 28 ft. in diameter. It stands on a bare spot, which, in the belief of the country people, is likely to continue in the same condition, as there is a popular notion that trees will not grow within the circle.

The stones are of a cherty conglomerate, and 8 in number, and one only appears to be wanting.
p118 in 'Handbook for travellers in Wiltshire, Dorsetshire and Somersetshire' by John Murray (1859) - on Google Books.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th September 2007ce

The Stones are but a tiny hop from the Winterbourne spring. Is it too imaginative to think the two might be connected? Ok possibly.
"Folks say that no man ever saw a 'winter-borne break. It is dry one day and running the next, but its first downpour was never beheld. Many years ago watch was kept day and night for a fortnight for the breaking of the Winterborne Abbas stream. One night the watchman on duty found that his pipe had gone out. 'Bridehead-lodge - he bean't 'bove hundred or two yard - can't do any harm to get light there.' But in those three minutes the winter-borne broke unseen."
Some might also be keen to read meaning into the nearby house being 'Bride-head lodge'.
p117 in
Dorset Folk-Lore
J. J. Foster
The Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2. (1888), pp. 115-119.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
14th December 2006ce

Westwood and Simpson suggest in 'Lore of the Land' (2005) that an alternative name for these stones is 'Lady Williams and her little dog Fido'. What can this mean? They give no explanation. Surely no-one can miscount stones that badly. Does anyone know what this is about? Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th February 2006ce

The Nine Stones have been regarded by local folklore to be the Devil, his wife and children. Though another tale suggests that the stones were once children who where turned into stone by the Devil while playing five-stones on the Sabbath.

http://www.darkdorset.co.uk
Posted by Mizmaze
1st October 2002ce
Edited 20th July 2005ce

Miscellaneous

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(57) The Nine Stones stone circle (SY 69 SW; 61079043; Fig. p. 514, Plate 211), stands immediately S. of the Bridport road 850 yds. W. of the church in an enclosure just inside Nine Stone Wood. The site is level at 345 ft. above O.D. on the S. edge of a narrow valley floor. The subsoil is apparently river gravel with Upper Chalk adjacent to the S.

The stones, all sarsens, are arranged in a rough circle with internal diameters of about 27½ ft. (N. to S.) and 23½ ft. (W. to E.). Though they are irregularly spaced, a gap to the N. is almost twice as wide as any other gap. Seven of the stones are small and low, from about 1 ft. to 2½ ft. high. Two are more massive: (a) is 7 ft. high and its elongated form recalls the 'A' stones in the Kennet Avenue near Avebury, Wilts.; (b), a large slab, 6 ft. high and 6 ft. across at the base, is like the 'B' stones in the same Avenue (cf. Antiquity x (1936), 420).

Aubrey recorded only nine stones, as did Hutchins in 1768; but Warne alleged traces of a tenth to the N.E., presumably in the wide gap. Stukeley's drawing of 1723 shows the circle in the same state as at present and nothing could be seen of any additional stone in 1936. (S. and C. M. Piggott, Antiquity XIII (1939), 146, with facsimile of Aubrey's MS. notes as pl. I; J. Hutchins, History of Dorset II, 196, and Gentleman's Magazine (1768), 112–3, letter signed J. H.; C. Warne, Ancient Dorset (1872), 117–8; J. Stukeley, Itinerarium Curiosum II (1724), tab. 92, which has been wrongly identified as showing a site in Winterbourne Monkton, Wilts.) The site is a guardianship monument of the Ministry of Public Building and Works and is No. 149 on the O.S. Map of Neolithic Wessex.

'Stones', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 2, South east (London, 1970), pp. 512-515. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/dorset/vol2/pp512-515
Chance Posted by Chance
29th March 2016ce

Details of The Nine Stones on Pastscape

(SY 61079043) The Nine Stones (NAT) Stone Circle (NR). (1)
The Nine Stones Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age (SY 61079043) stands immediately S of the Bridport road 850 yds W of the church in an enclosure just inside Nine Stone Wood. The site is level at 345 ft above OD on the S edge of a narrow valley floor. The subsoil is apparently river gravel with Upper Chalk adjacent to the S.
The stones, all sarsens, are arranged in a rough circle with internal diameters of about 27 1/2 ft (N to S) and 23 1/2 ft (W to E). Though they are irregularly spaced, a gap to the N is almost twice as wide as any other gap. Seven of the stones are small and low, from about 1 ft to 2 1/2 ft high. Two are more massive: (a) is 7 ft high and its elongated form recalls the 'A' stones in the Kennet Avenue near Avebury, Wilts; (b) a large slab, 6 ft high and 6 ft across at the base, is like the 'B' stones in the same Avenue (cf Antiquity X (1936), 420).
Aubrey recorded only nine stones, as did Hutchins in 1768; but Warne alleged traces of a tenth to the NE, presumably in the wide gap. Stukeley's drawing of 1723 shows the circle in the same state as at present and nothing could be seen of any additional stone in 1936. (S and C M Piggott, Antiquity XIII (1939), 146, with facsimile of Aubrey's MS notes as pl I; J Hutchins, History of Dorset 11, 196, and Gentleman's Magazine (1768) 112-3, letter signed J H; C Warne, Ancient Dorset (1872), 117-8; J Stukeley, Itinerarium Curiosum II (1742), tab 92, which has been wrongly identified as showing a site in Winterbourne Monkton, Wilts). The site is a guardianship monument of the Ministry of Public Building and Works and is No 149 on the OS Map of Neolithic Wessex. (2)
'The Nine Stones' (name on Ministry notice board) remain as described by RCHM. Re-surveyed at 1:2500 on M.S.D. (3)
A late Neolithic/Bronze Age stone circle. The stones are of sarsen or conglomerate and have been arranged in a rough circle. They are irregularly spaced, a gap to the north is almost twice as wide as any other gaps. Seven of the stones are small and low, two are larger. Traces of a tenth stone have been alleged, presumably in the wide gap. Scheduled. (1-3)
The Nine Stones is a late Neolithic or early Bronze Age stone circle. It is located immediately south of the A35 Bridport road, just outside the village of Winterbourne Abbas in an enclosure within Nine Stone Wood. This is situated in a valley bottom close to the South Winterbourne stream. The stones are of sarsen or conglomerate and have been arranged in a rough circle with maximum internal diameter of 8 metres. The circle was first recorded in the 18th century by J. Aubrey, W. Stukeley and W. Hutchins and has seen little change since. The stones measure between 1.5 metres to 0.5 metre in diameter and 1.5 metres to 0.45 metres in height. However all the stones are partially buried and their exact dimensions are not know. Two stones, situated within the northern and western areas of the monument, are notably larger than the rest. The Nine Stones are spaced at about one metre intervals however there is a gap of 3 metres on the northern side, which may be a possible entrance. It was alleged in 1872 by C. Warne that there was originally traces of a tenth stone, which may have filled this gap. However on W. Stukeley's drawing of 1723 the circle is in the same state as at present. The Nine Stones is one of only four stone circles known to survive within the area, and it's location in a valley bottom is unusual. (1-5)
'The 17th century antiquarian John Aubrey described another circle about half a mile to the west but this has since been destroyed, although a fallen 2 metre stone known as the Broad Stone lies semi-buried beside the road about a mile to the west.' (6) Five of the stones suffered damage from graffiti in the form of white paint in 2007. (7)
Chance Posted by Chance
27th March 2016ce

At Winterbourne Abbas, four or five miles from Dorchester, is a small circle called the "Nine stones," 28 or 30 feet in diameter (not in height as stated by the Post Office Directory); six stones only remain, two of which are 6 feet high, the others half that size or less; there are a road and a ploughed field close to the north of this circle, so that if there were ever an outlying stone there it has probably been destroyed or buried; according to Gough's Camden's "Britannia" there were formerly a large single stone half-a-mile to the west of this circle, and four smaller ones half-a-mile west of that, but I could hear nothing of them.
You can't get the staff these days. p119 in
Remarks on Some Archaic Structures in Somersetshire and Dorsetshire.
A. L. Lewis
The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 11. (1882), pp. 117-122.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th December 2006ce
Edited 15th December 2006ce

Links

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History of the nine stones on the English Heritage website


Chance Posted by Chance
27th March 2016ce

Youtube Video


wickerman Posted by wickerman
10th February 2013ce