art: 1. Drew: id; 2. Stanton Drew; 3. Desuetude
STANTON DREW, SOMERSET
Stanton Drew is a magnificent site on private farmland consisting of 3 stone circles, 2 stone avenues and a nearby Cove, initially recorded by antiquarians Aubrey and Stukeley in the C16th and C17th. Only the large circle at Avebury in Wiltshire exceeds the Great Circle here in size amongst British ancient monuments. The giant stones are hewn from breccia and oolitic limestone, with 27 from an original 30 remaining at the Great Circle which measures 370’ in diameter. Magnetometry, a form of Geophysical Surveying, was used in 1997 to discover that beneath this circle lies 9 concentric ditches ranging from 70’ to 285’ in diameter and up to 400 post holes, as well as a 410’ diameter henge up to 22’ in width and with a 120’ wide entrance to the north east. From this direction an avenue of stones led to the nearby River Chew. The North East Circle, 90’ in diameter, was also surveyed at this time. It was discovered that here, beneath the visible 8 stones, 4 still upright, lies a central quadrilateral of 4 pits aligned with the opposing pairs of these 8 stones. The second avenue leads east from here, meeting the other one near the river. The South West Circle is less well kept by the landowners, frequently overgrown but at least now accessible to the public, and is made up of 11 now recumbent stones from its original dozen. The Cove stands in the beer garden of The Druid’s Arms village pub. This site is also known as The Weddings, based on the legend that the circles and avenues are the petrified remains of wedding guests and musicians lured by the devil to revel on the Sabbath, whilst the 3 massive stones of the Cove are the bride and groom, with the fallen one being the pissed-up vicar. The alignments between these megalithic structures, including the site of the standing stone of Hautvilles’s Quoit on the far bank of the River Chew, point to this being a single complex from the late neolithic, and since Stanton Drew is yet to be excavated there are faint hopes of answers to presently timeless questions.
OS: ST.602.632 South from the B3130, west off the A37 south of Bristol.