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The Great Circle, North East Circle & Avenues

Stone Circle


Stanton Drew, located at 51.366997, -2.578645

For us this was not an easy place to find and we would recommend using a Sat Nav. The latitude and longitude given above will take you directly to the car park allocated for the circle. The narrow country lanes access make this a tricky place to drive to. Some of the roads marked as main A roads on the map were little more than country lanes and quite inadequate for the volume, speed, and size of today's traffic.

The stone structure is of large rough stones irregularly positioned and standing in flattish farm land. It is a very peaceful spot though, and an inner city dweller (Bristol?) may find it very relaxing and effecting. The size of the rings and the stones are impressive (photo 5 and 6) and the rustic local village and pub, which contains the Cove, is well worth a stroll round.

From a more technical point of view there are interesting alignments to the sunrises via the causeways, and the numbers of stones in the two main circles which provide some indication for a sunrise weather/season forecaster.

Causeways -
The circles have Eastern causeways which, from their irregular positioning of their stones, appear to have been disrupted. The stones of the causeways seem to have been in pairs.
They point towards the sunrises of 15 August - the end of summer, and the 1 Oct - the end of Autumn - as can be seen in Diagram 1. These would be important dates for a rural community.

Circles -
The circles appear to have been disrupted with displacements having taken place along the circumference rather than the radius. However it can be seen that the Great Circle does not fit a circle too well; it fits two arcs, one East, one West, far better - as can be seen in Diagram 1 which shows a Plan diagram of the Great Circle and North East Circle and their sunrise orientation. This arrangement can be seen in other structures such as Blakeley Raise, England, and Loupin' Stanes, Scotland. The centres of the circles and The Cove align with the midsummer sunrise, as can be seen in Diagram 1.

It is interesting to note that the smaller North-East circle appears to have 9 stones - which could give alignments for midsummer, spring/autumn, and midwinter if the stones were suitably placed, as for Nine Ladies in Stanton Moor, Derbyshire, England, and others circles - as can be seen in Diagram 2.

Apparently there are 27 stones present in the Great Circle (source Wikipedia). The stones seem intact although very weathered, and do not seem to have been broken up and left in pieces - although they differ in height - so the original number may have been 27. This, if the stones were placed equidistant from one another in circular shape and one aligned from a central observation point towards the midsummer sunrise, would provide alignments, like Stonehenge, for a 12 season annual cycle - as can be seen in Diagram 3. The Great Circle is so large that the centre would have to be marked in some way. The differing heights would be useful to indicate required alignments, such as midsummer.

Some of the stones in the North East circle - numbers 3 and 4 (photos 1 to 3) and The Cove (photo 4) appear to have been pushed over to lie flat, rather than sunken over with time to lie at an angle. The break lines of the stones are regular with the pieces not being displaced, indicating deliberate breakage after the stone were flat, perhaps using iron wedges and heavy hammers. Two damaged stones (3 and 4) lie together, indicating their displacement on the circle. It is recorded that the Romans destroyed the Druids and their sacred groves, and as it is highly likely that the Druids knew of and used the stone circles, it could be thought that Stanton Drew was disrupted and damaged by the Romans, perhaps to be partially restored by the British once they had left.

Please refer to the diagrams and photos.

For fuller information on sunrises weather/season forecasters please see:
Dave1982 Posted by Dave1982
2nd January 2017ce
Edited 8th January 2017ce

Comments (12)

Dave ,
You might be interested in

It includes an excellent agenda free archaeoastronomical survey of the monument(s) by Richard Sermon , with mention of earlier surveys and their interpretation .
tiompan Posted by tiompan
2nd January 2017ce
Few things I didn't understand and one or two points -

How is 1st October the end of autumn?

Blakeley Raise has been messed about with.

Why is it 'highly likely' that the Druids used stone circles?

Are you aware of the internal concentric rings at SD?
Evergreen Dazed Posted by Evergreen Dazed
2nd January 2017ce
Another highlight of the paper is on p71 "In 2009, a local newspaper published claims by a dowser, Paul Daw, a surveyor by profession (Chew Valley Gazette 2009) of a number of extra features which had not been detected by geophysical or other means. Mr Daw has provided copies of his plans to BACAS and these are compared with magnetometry in Appendix B. Amongst others was a claim that the avenue extended east towards the river and a photograph by Burl (2000) would support this claim. It does not show in the magnetometry survey of 1998, but that area has buried iron water pipes which disrupt the picture. He also claimed extra pit features around the circumference of the main circle and an entrance through the henge ditch in the south-west quadrant. A full comparison of Daw’s dowsing plots and magnetometry is given in Appendix B of this document. Overall agreement between the two methods was not good.
Needless to say the appendix is worth reading .
tiompan Posted by tiompan
2nd January 2017ce
The 'henge entrance' (medieval track) shown coming into but not out the other side of the circle is a bit of a howler, is it not?

I'm lost for words regarding the concentric posts.

Well.. i'm not lost for words, but i'm not going to say what I think about it.
Evergreen Dazed Posted by Evergreen Dazed
2nd January 2017ce

Can't beat a howler .
tiompan Posted by tiompan
2nd January 2017ce
Hi Tiompan

Nice to hear from you again, I hope you had a happy Christmas and new year's day.

Sorry about the long delay in replying to your comment, flu has laid me low but I am fully recover now.

Thanks for the link which I am reading with considerable interest. The new science based ground scanning techniques will I think be an archaeological tool of the future although at present it seems quite limited. The Dowsing in Figure B1 was a bit off I thought, although if the primitive dowsing tool used at present is picking up gravitational variations or unknown forces it could be accurate, but not much evidence at present. The high data density magnetometer survey seems to be the most interesting.

The survey seems to support the number of stones in each circles as was previously believed with no new buried stones found, although I haven't yet finished reading the report. It would be a heavy blow to me if more stone are found! : )
Dave1982 Posted by Dave1982
6th January 2017ce
Hi Evergreen Dazed

Describing the first of October as the end of Autumn is just a personal view, not a formal classification. i.e. it lies between summer and winter but closer to winter, hence the end of Autumn.

You don't happen to know who and when with regards to Blakely Raise being 'messed about with'? Any information on this would be appreciated.

Roman records show that sacred circles were important to the Druids, so I think it likely that they used the stone circles. Again this is a personal view.

Yes, I am aware of the internal concentric rings thanks and am as baffled as anyone else, although you seem to have a personal view on it. Are you going to share? : )
Dave1982 Posted by Dave1982
6th January 2017ce
Can't beat a howler, or a dowser?
(Sorry, I could not resist that)
Dave1982 Posted by Dave1982
6th January 2017ce
Hope you left your £1 coin in the box

Much neglected site as it is not on the tourist trail as is eg Castlerigg. The puzzle for me was what is the relationship between the Southwest circle and the Great circle. The Northeast circle is clearly joined to the Great circle by an Avenue (albeit a crooked one) whereas the Southwest appears to be out there on it its own possibly linked in some way to the Cove and therefore may well have had a completely independent ceremonial purpose.
Posted by costaexpress
7th January 2017ce
Hi Dave,

I think Burl mentioned Blakely Raise may have been reconstructed incorrectly or possibly even completely moved, can't remember, but there is plenty of info on the net.

Bit of info here :

Never heard of any roman writing about druids and 'circles' or indeed stone circles.
Would appreciate some info on this. Always good to learn something new.

No personal view on the posts at Stanton Drew, I was referring to the dowsing 'find'.
Seems dowsing found the post holes but in different positions to the survey. Strange, eh? The posts were known about before the dowsing took place btw.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions.
Evergreen Dazed Posted by Evergreen Dazed
7th January 2017ce
Hi Evergreen Dazed

Thanks for the link, I was aware of the reconstruction, and assumed that is was done with professionalism and care - ?! I'd like to visit the site sometime to check the existence of a marked origin of the Eastern arc, but this will involve considerable travel on our congested roads. A must do before I die.

Wikipedia states -
'Following the Roman invasion of Gaul, the druid orders were suppressed by the Roman government under the 1st century CE emperors Tiberius and Claudius, and had disappeared from the written record by the 2nd century.'

Section - Cicero, Diodorus Siculus, Strabo and Tacitus

'Gaul' seems to have included England.

The suppression seems to have been a massacre of the movement in Britain and the destruction of their sacred groves - not circles. Ref the final battle in Anglesey, Wales. I was mistaken in assuming a grove involved a circle within trees, based on a very absorbing read of a book written around fictional characters based on actually historical events, and some practical assumptions! Sorry about that. : )

But could this explain the circles within the SD Great Stone Circle? Could they perhaps been an artificial Druid grove? A dating of them would be useful, but this would involve a dig.
Dave1982 Posted by Dave1982
8th January 2017ce
Thanks Dave ,
A fine festive season was had by us up here .Hope the new year improves for you after the flu .
Yes the report is interesting but I thought the archaeoastronomy section exemplary .
tiompan Posted by tiompan
8th January 2017ce
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