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History Coursework: Local Study, Stanton Drew Stone Circles

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Introduction

History Coursework: Local Study, Stanton Drew Stone Circles

Hypothesis: “The Stone Circles at Stanton Drew were built purely for religious reasons”

Question 1:What can you learn from your site investigation about the Stone Circles at Stanton Drew?

The stone circles at Stanton Drew have plagued the minds of historians and archeologists for centuries, and also produced wild fairy tales of the upmost imagination. However what I am going to try and establish is weather  “The Stone Circles at Stanton Drew were built purely for religious reasons”, or if they were built for another reason, and in that case what and how have I come to that conclusion.

To try and conclude on this topic I am going to rely on primary data which I will collect from the site and also secondary sources which have been provided. I visited the Stanton Drew area on the 11th October 2001.

Stanton Drew is located in the south west of England. It is south of Bristol and is adjacent to the B 3130. This established village houses approximately 1000 residents, and has a church, one pub, a phone box, a village hall and a post box. The roads through Stanton Drew are fairly narrow. This tells me that the settlement here is established, as well as the christianic religion.

 The Chew River, originating from the mendips, running through the valley gives an adequate water supply around the years and the addition of  Chew Valley lake (resevoir) also helps provide water for Bristol and the surrounding area.

The stone circles are located in the north east part of the village, near to chew river and opposite the B3130.

From this information above I can establish that the Chew Valley area is and was a fertile area for growth and prosperous life.

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Middle

The cove consists of 3 stones, two of which are still standing but one has fallen over

We know one of the stones has fallen over because at Avebury (another Neolithic stone circle) there is a similar structure, and at this cove at avebury all of the stones remain standing. One of the stones in the cove could be another representation of the male genitle symbol.  Below are the measurements, which I had taken at the site, of the cove.  The size of these stones do not seem to have a relationship. However there are similarities between the measurements but I do not think that this is relevant.  For example the possible height of the stone which is recumbent in the cove, is 4m and the other two are smaller….

The possibility of a henge is most visable in the photos fig.. This is because as you can see there is a slight dip in the ground and allaround the site. I measured this ditch and it was 1.2m deep. This may have been the henge, however this is unlikely because at other

The alignments that I have researched and coordinate with the Stanton Drew stones are; the winter solstice and the summer solstice. This alignment is between the cove, the main circle and the north east circle. When the sun rises on the alignment of  those three monuments this is at the same time as midsummer solstice. Midsummer solstice is when spring time turns into summer time. This is relevant because at this time of year crops maybe planted and the storage of any food over the winter which is left over maybe used up in a festival.

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Conclusion

Stanton Drew folk law talks about how the stones were created by a wedding party dancing through the night into Sunday moring because they were tempted by the devil playing his violin which kept them dancing. When the sun rose on the Sunday morning they all turned to stone. This legend was tracked to go as far back as the early 18th century…..Another folk law is that the stones of Stanton Drew cannot be counted exactly, this was stated by John Wood in his description of Bath (1749). He is quoted as saying that whenever people tried to count the stones there were “struck dead upon the spot, or with such an illness as soon carried them off.” This legend

Evaluation of sources I have used in question three are as follow…

In conclusion

Question 4: Using all the evidence available, explain whether you agree or disagree with the hypothesis?

I am unsure about disagreeing or agreeing because there is no way of knowing for certain

The site could have been purley a religious site because The site could have been used as  For example eAt other Neolithic sites In conclusion However we will never fully know the extent of the Neolithic peoples beiliefs and their life style religion shall stay an enigma forever.

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