Standing Stones at Stanton Drew near The Old Malt House Hotel in Bath.

Prior Park is 6.8 miles from the Old Malt House Hotel in Bath

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Stanton Drew

Neolithic Stone Circles in Somerset

old malt house hotel in Bath Stanton Drew Standing Stones near The Old Malt House Hotel Bath
Stanton Drew NE Circle

Stanton Drew

Less than 6 miles from our hotel and about a 15 minute leisurely drive are the enigmatic Standing Stones at Stanton Drew.

There are three stone circles at Stanton Drew with the Great Circle being one of the largest in the country at diameter of about 112m, rivalling Avebury. The Northeast circle (diameter 29.5m) was once approached by an avenue of standing stones and this circle is the most impressive feature of the site.

The 1997 geophysical survey of the site has seen Stanton Drew acclaimed as one of the largest and most impressive Neolithic monuments to have been built.

 

 

VISITING

Please note : The sites of these stone circles, although in the care of English Heritage, lie on private land. This means that you can park by the Druid Inn where the cove is in the pub garden or if you continue past the pub turn right then left around some houses to a small parking space near the circles. There is a £1 entry charge paid via the honesty box on the gate.

The third (smallest) of the 3 circles is less obvious and is accessed by two gates in the South West (near right from entry gate) corner of the main field.

Enigmatic stanton drew
The Cove Stanton Drew

The Cove, like the church, lies in a straight line with the centres of the two larger stone circles. It consists of two huge upright stones with a recumbent slab lying between them. They are blocks of dolomitic breccia, while the circles' stones are different being made of pustular breccia and oolitic limestone.

The legend of the stones

A wedding party was held on a Saturday in a field below Dundry Hill for William and Sue. A fire was lit and a "harper" played for the guests who danced to the music around the fire. The guests were very merry. Much later they called for the Harper to continue but he refused saying it was nearly the Sabbath. The guests said "We shall dance till dawn, though we may have to call the Devil himself to play for us".

A man clothed in black (the Devil in disguise) came and started to play his pipe for the merrymakers to dance. The music so beguiling that unnoticed they carried on dancing after midnight, continuing into holy Sunday morning. However when the dancers wished to stop they found they were impelled to carry on dancing. One last dance was taking place when dawn broke.

The Piper laughed in the cold light of dawn. He raised his pipe again to his lips and played a haunting melody. The dammed souls of the wedding guests gathered close around and followed him into the mists of the netherworld.

The Harper returned to the field later on Sunday morning. In his haste to leave he had left behind his hat and now he thought to retrieve it. He found his hat easily; it had been placed jauntily on the top of one of the many stones that now stood in the field. The Harper counted the stones and though he could not be sure there seemed to be about forty six. "How odd," thought the Harper, "There were about that many wedding guests…".  He ran from the field and never went near the place again.

It is consequently reputed to be bad luck, if not impossible, to count the stones. John Wood the elder (designer of the Royal Crescent in Bath) wrote in 1750 "No one, say the country people about Stanton drue, was ever able to reckon the number of the metaphosed stones, or to take a draught of them, though several have attempted to do both, and proceeded till they were either struck dead upon the spot, or with such an illness as soon carried them off."


The stone circles are the dancers, the avenues are the fiddlers and the Cove is the bride and the groom with the drunken churchman at their feet. They are still awaiting the Devil who promised to come back someday and play again for them again.

 

 


 

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