To follow on from yesterday’s Instagram photography by Katherine Jane Wood (of seagulls at the Chew Valley lake, south of Bath and Bristol), here is a series of images from the same session; shots of the stone circles at Stanton Drew, just a mile from the lakes.For those wishing to know more about this rather little known monument (that isn’t far at all from The English Group’s studio), you might be surprised to discover that this is the third largest stone circle in Britain (after Stonehenge and Avebury).
The Stanton Drew stone circles are at grid reference ST600633 just outside the village of Stanton Drew, Somerset. The largest stone circle is the Great Circle, 113 m in diameter and the second largest stone circle in Britain (after Avebury); it is considered to be one of the largest and most impressive Neolithic monuments to have been built. The Great Circle probably consisted of 30 stones, of which 27 survive today, and was surrounded by the ditch (approximately 135m outer diameter — now filled in) of a henge. The North East Circle is 30 m in diameter and probably consisted of 10 or more stones, of which 8 survive today. The South West Circle is 43 m in diameter, and has 12 stones surviving today.
Geophysical work by English Heritage in 1997 revealed a surrounding ditch and nine concentric rings of postholes within the stone circle. More than 400 pits, 1 m across and at 2.5 m intervals, stood in rings at the site. The ditch is 135 m in diameter and about 7 m wide. A 40 m wide entrance was visible on the north east side. No surrounding bank has been identified although the site awaits excavation.
The geophysical work transformed the traditional view of Stanton Drew as being a surface monument and the Great Circle is now seen as being one of the largest and most impressive Neolithic monuments to have been built. Analogous with the circles of postholes at sites at Woodhenge, Durrington Walls and The Sanctuary, it is thought that the pits would have held posts which would have either been freestanding or lintelled as they could not have supported a roof at that size. The postholes in nine concentric rings held posts up to 1 metre (3.3 ft) in diameter.
Nearby and to the north east is a smaller ring of 8 stones in the centre of which the geophysical work identified four further pits. A third ring of 12 stones, measuring 43 m wide, stands to the south west.
A fluxgate gradiometer survey in July 2009 investigated standing stones in the garden of the Druids Arms public house known as The Cove, which showed that the stones date from nearly 1000 years before the stone circles. The conclusion from the study was that these upright stones are likely to have been the portals or façade of a chambered tomb.
In 2010 a further survey was carried out by Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society and the Bath and North East Somerset Archaeological Officer. This involved high data density magnetometer, resistance pseudosection profiles and photographic surveys showed a new henge entrance and further detail of post holes