20th March 2012: Stanton Drew Stone Circles & Worlebury Camp Iron Age Fort

A day trip to the south west allowed me to visit Stanton Drew complex, consisting of three stone circles (the third largest Neolithic stone circle in Britain), two avenues and a cove.

The largest or "Great Circle" is 113m in diameter and originally consisted of around 30 standing stones, however only 27 survive today and most have now fallen down. In the same field is the Northeast Circle which is 30m in diameter and probably consisted of 10 or more stones, of which only 9 are still there. The Southwest Circle is in a separate field and is 40m in diameter.

Various excavations have taken place, from the middle of the 17th century when human bones and an object described as a "round bell, like a large horse-bell" were recovered after a stone fell down, to geophysical work by English Heritage (1997) that showed a surrounding ditch and nine concentric rings of postholes within the stone circle.

I also had a quick look at another Scheduled Ancient Monument - Worlebury Camp Iron Age Fort, on Worlebury Hill above Weston Super Mare, after climbing the numerous steps from Camp Road. The fort is bordered on its north and west sides by steep cliffs dropping down into the Bristol Channel between Weston Bay and Sand Bay. 

Around the 10 acre area are over 90 storage pits (shown above) cut directly into the bedrock. The average size of these pits is around 2m wide and 1.5m deep - the largest pit is roughly triangular, with sides measuring 3m x 2.7m x 2.4m and the smallest pit is 1m long by 0.7m wide. The iron age inhabitants of the hill fort used the pits to store grain, such as barley and wheat. Eighteen of these pits were found to contain The remains of human skeletons (now stored in the Weston-super-Mare Museum) were found in 18 pits and Archaeologists also found sling stones and spindle whorls from the 1st/2nd century BC in them.

The fort has a wall on its north side and another on the west side, both near the edge of the cliffs. The dry-laid stone walls are around 1m thick. To prevent access to the walls themselves, large breastworks were constructed at the base of the walls by piling up rock rubble against the bases. These rubble barriers are over 1.22m high and over 1.22m thick.

On the south there is a single rampart and a ditch. The level east side was protected by two stone ramparts and five ditches (shown above & below) and some parts of these ramparts were over 11m high measuring from the bottom of the ditch in 1875.

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