The Stone Circles & The Cove

There are three stone circles at Stanton Drew. The Great Circle, at 113 metres (370 feet) in diameter, is one of the largest in the country: it has 26 surviving stones, although there may once have been up to 30.

The other two circles, to the south-west and north-east, are smaller. Both the Great Circle and the north-east circle were approached from the north-east by short ‘avenues’ of standing stones, most of which have fallen.

In the garden of the pub is a group of three large stones called The Cove, and to the north, across the River Chew, is the site of a standing stone known as Hautville’s Quoit. Their closeness to each other, and the alignments between some of them, indicate that together these stones formed a single complex.

Stone circles like these are known to date to the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (around 3000–2000 BC). Such circles are believed to have played an important part in social and religious life, and there is evidence that some were aligned with major events of the solar and lunar calendar.

In 1997 English Heritage initiated a geophysical survey of the large field that contains the Great Circle and north-east circle. The survey used magnetometry, a non-invasive technique which picks up magnetic anomalies in the ground to indicate the presence of buried features such as pits, ditches and hearths.

The survey showed that the remains at Stanton Drew are the ruins of a much more elaborate and important site than had previously been imagined.

Lying under the Great Circle are the remains of a complex pattern of buried pits, arranged in nine concentric rings within the stone circle, and further pits at the centre.

The Great Circle is itself contained within a very large enclosure ditch, about 135m (440 ft) in diameter. This is about 7m (23 ft) wide with a broad gap or entrance facing north-east. 

The village also has a range of listed buildings, dating from the 13th to 15th centuries, including the church of St Mary the Virgin, the Round House (Old Toll House) and various farmhouses.