History of Stanton Drew Stone Circles and Cove
Last Updated May 30, 2023 by Tim Trott. First Published in 2013.
The tale and history of Stanton Drew Stone Circles and how the guests at a wedding celebration were turned to stone by the devil himself!
The Stanton Drew Stone Circle or, to be more precise, three stone circles, dates from around 3000 BC and enjoys a relatively isolated location well off the beaten track. The stones themselves stand sullen and silent - brooding guardians of ancient mysteries around which all manner of legends and ghostly tales have been woven.
Although two times the scale of its more famous cousins, Stonehenge and Avebury, it is a lot much less widely known and has managed to retain a particular air of mystery of detachment and solitude.
Although archaeological excavation on the site has been minimal, there's evidence to indicate that an enormous structure once stood within the Great Circle. Consisting of 27 stones, most of which lie recumbent, the circle measures 112m (367ft) across. This prompts the speculation that the megalithic remains had been once part of a lot more complicated and important site. A recent magnetometer survey of the site discovered an extremely elaborate pattern of buried pits organized in 9 concentric rings inside the main circle. However, there are, at the time of writing, no plans for any excavation and, as a result, the historical facts remain sparse and the stones shall be allowed to keep their secrets, at least for the foreseeable future.
Where history remains mute, however, folklore and legend have been more than pleased to step into the void, offering their very own intriguing rationalization as to the foundation of the stones.
Tradition holds that they're the petrified remains of a wedding celebration, turned to stone by the Devil! The tale goes that a great wedding ceremony banquet was held within the vicinity on a Saturday, and everybody was enjoying themselves immensely. The bride, slightly intoxicated by the flowing drink and lively carousing, instructed the fiddler to play on, even though the Sabbath was rapidly approaching. The fiddler refused, whereupon the bride exclaimed that the dancing would continue even if she had to go to Hell to find a fiddler. It was an unwise outburst, for no sooner had the words left her mouth than a tall stranger appeared in their midst and struck up a merry jig. Faster and faster the guests twirled, swirled, and spun, each of them unable to stop, as the dance went on and on throughout the night. Come the daybreak they'd all been turned to stone, and the fiddler, who was, after all, the Devil himself, had seized their souls and spirited them away to the fires of Hell.
So it's that the sullen stones are said to be the petrified bodies of the guests, whilst a grouping of 2 standing stones and one recumbent stone positioned within the lawn of the village pub - the Druids Arms - are said to be the mortal remains of the bride, bridegroom and Parson. There is also a belief that confusion, even dying, awaits anyone who tries to count the stones. Some say that this will never be carried out accurately because attempts to do so will always yield a different total. Others say that you will drop dead before finishing the task.
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