stanton drew stone circles

I have been researching the Stanton Drew Stone Circles for a number of years both as an individual and with members of the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society. The stones seen at Stanton Drew are varied and include, among other rock types; silicified Dolomitic Conglomerate, Oolitic Limestone and Sandstone. The question is; from where were these various stone types sourced?

22nd January 2012

Field Notes 2012Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, January 22, 2012 16:49:57

It has been sugggested that Bathampton Down is a possible source for the Jurassic limestone type stones that are seen at Stanton Drew [Great Circle]. As a follow up to this suggestion a field trip and reference to relevant maps (OS and BGS) of the area leads to an initial impression that Bathampton Down is a largely manufactured landscape that includes prehistoric, historic and present day land usage, this currently includes a golf course and university grounds. The scarp that flanks much of the hill summit has been subjected to considerable quarrying and mining activity that has left its mark. The Jurassic limestones seen at Bathampton Down exhibit the typical erosional features that are evident in limestones of this age and type anywhere in the British Isles. There is no natural connection between Bathampton Down and Stanton Drew, transportation of material by river would involve double movement going downstream [to Keynsham] then following the River Chew upstream. A route across land is unlikely; it is undulating and there are no obvious waymark features that suggest a route such as this might chosen. However, it is apparent that the present modern landscape, in all likelihood, has masked patterns and features that might have been obvious in prehistory (Pryor, 2003. p53).
Location ST 77799/65016. A small stone quarry close to the golf course north end of Bushey Norwood (image above) has good exposures of Upper Rags and Bath Oolite (see below for description). Pale creamy-brown oolitic limestone of Jurassic age, the exposed rock has a bleached appearance with pale grey-green lichen. The sequence in the image above from the top has >1 metre of weathered limestone with abundant organic growth overlying 150mm of solid limestone that in turn overlies very fractured limestone. Below to unkown depth is more solid limestone with occassional fractures and apparent bedding layers.

Location ST 77349/65490. There are numerous boulders of limestone in an area containing field systems, pillow mounds and warrens and a number of other features, on the north facing slope of Bathampton Down. The material is described as pale cream-brown very shelly limestone with pock-marked surface of Jurassic age, the rock has substantial lichen growth (image above and two below).

Location ST 77948/64649. Bushey Norwood, the underlying geology in this area comprises Combe Down Oolite. More boulders of limestone and there is evidence of many sub-surface boulders (images above and below).

Geology: Reference to British Geological Survey (BGS) 1:63 000 scale map Sheet 265, Bath shows that the geology underlying Bathampton Down is Great Oolite Limestone, to the eastern side is an area defined as landslip while to the northern and western sides is an area of foundered strata. The BGS 1:10 000 Sheet ST76SE further describes the Great Oolite Group as comprising (in sequence, from the top down):

Cornbrash - rubbly shelly fine-grained limestone.

Forest Marble - grey mudstone, commonly with sandy lenses and partings; sandstone near the top; flaggy shelly and oolitic limestone locally at the base.

Upper Rags and Bath Oolite - streaky cross-bedded shell-fragmental oolite locally with coralline limestone at base and top; overlying oolitic limestone and oolite freestone.

Twinhoe Beds - fine-grained detrital limestone overlying pisolitic limestones; ironshot at base.

Combe Down Oolite - massive shell-fragmental oolite and oolite freestone

Fullers Earth

Together the Upper Rags/Bath Oolite, Twinhoe Beds and Combe Down Oolite are further classified as the Great Oolite.


Pryor, F. 2003. Britain BC. Harper Collins Publishers/Harper Perennial (2004)

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