STANTON DREW PROVING STONE
(From the Great Circle)
Stanton Drew Stone Circle stands in a field south of Bristol, in the village of the same name, in Somerset.
It isn't as poplar, or as visited as Avebury or Stonehenge. It doesn't have a tourist-shop or
somewhere to buy a souvenir or a cream-tea and consequently isn't covered in litter, which is nice.
There is an honesty-box on the gate leading in and the stones are owned by English Heritage but the land
is privately owned.
It's possible to visit the stones and never see another human being (!!) and the most I've ever seen there when I've visited is two other couples. The grass is cut regularly and sometimes cows but mostly sheep graze there and scratch themselves on some of the larger stones, leaving little clumps of wool on the stones.
There are three circles. A small one behind a fence on another plot of land to the right of the big circle.
The Great Circle comprises of 27 1. stones and is over 370 feet across, making it one of the biggest megalithic rings except for Avebury 2. and there is another circle at the bottom of the field with the largest stones.
There is a story that revolves around a wedding party where the guests/musicians were dancing on the Sabbath, and the devil turned them to stone. But these sorts of stories lie with a lot of circles and add to their mystique. Personally I feel it detracts from the true nature of stone circles, as I see them as meeting places, not somewhere where devils lie.
In a Stone-Age society, stone was the most important medium. It was used for making knives and spears. Stone was also worshipped, as there is some suggestion that, for them, it represented eternity i.e. this stone will be here.................forever.
Well, as it is, these stones have stood here for an awfully long time. For at least 4500 years. According to The Oxford Dictionary of Current English a generation is 30 years (the average time in which children are ready to take the place of parents), that's 150 generations of people that have existed since they were first placed there.
And they are still there.
The suggestion is, the circles weren't built to be circles but as places for the 'community' to do whatever that community does.
As Mike Pitts says "We have been blinded by monumentality. In Europe medieval churches and cathedrals impress us with their mass, their architectural power and their permanence. Yet we forget that when they were built, they were not treasured antiques, but centres of vision and activity; of music , singing, chanting, speech; of ceremonies, from inductions of bishops to the burial of kings; of the largest gatherings of people ever seen in their districts................the possibility that some ceremonies demanded altered states of mind, a symbolic but definitely not scientific interest in the sun and moon, and the recurrent presence of human remains-we need to think not only of such things, but also of the living people themselves, their thoughts and their actions".3.
In some ways, this proving released not only the energy of the stones themselves, but also what may have happened in this stone circle. People met, traded, made friends, maybe even got married, looked at the stars or the moon or the sun, made vows, had fun, discussed things...................we don't know but the words of the provers give us an insight into what may have gone on there. There is also the consideration, that these aren't ordinary stones, they were moved and will they have a memory of that movement?
1. The Ancient remains at Stanton Drew in the county of Somerset by Charles William Dymond FSA, Printed for the author,1896 ( Copy in Bath Central Library)
2. p 58, Circles of Stone, The prehistoric Rings of Great Britain and Ireland by Max Milligan, Aubrey Burl, The Harvill Press, London,1999.
3.Hengeworld by Mike Pitts, Century, London, 2000