CAN YOU COUNT THE STONES?
Stanton Drew Stone Circle, Somerset
The Stanton Drew Stone Circle, or to be more precise, the three stone circles, date from around 3,000BC and enjoy a relatively isolated location that is well off the beaten track.
The stones themselves stand sullen and silent - brooding guardians of long ago mysteries around which all manner of legends and ghostly tales have been woven.
TWICE THE SIZE OF STONEHENGE AND AVEBURY
Although twice the size of its more famous cousins, Stonehenge and Avebury, the Stanton Drew Stone Circle is a lot less well known and, therefore, has managed to retain a distinctive aura of detachment and solitude.
Although archaeological excavation at the site has been minimal, evidence has been uncovered which suggests that a huge structure once stood inside the Great Circle - which consists of 27 stones - most of which lie recumbent - and which measures 112m across. This suggests that these megalithic remains were once part of a much more complex and important site.
There are, however, no immediate plans for further excavation and consequently the historical facts remain sparse. Thus the Stanton Drew stone circle will be allowed to keep its secrets, at least for the foreseeable future.
STANTON DREW STONE CIRCLE FOLKLORE
Where history remains mute, folklore and legend have been more than happy to step into the void and provide their own intriguing explanation as to the origin of the stones.
The Solitary Stone
Indeed, a very colourful legend, involving a bride, her guests, a parson and the devil, has been woven around this mysterious stone circle.
Tradition holds that they are in fact the petrified remains of a long ago wedding party that was turned to stone by the Devil!
On a long ago Saturday, so the story goes, a great wedding feast was held in the vicinity and everyone was enjoying themselves immensely.
THE BRIDE JUST WANTS TO HAVE FUN
The bride, who was a little over intoxicated by the flowing drink and the lively carousing, urged 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 as the dance went on and on through the night, each of them unable to stop.
TURNED TO STONE
Come the dawn they had all been turned to stone and the fiddler - who was, of course, the Devil himself -had seized their souls and spirited them away to the fires of hell.
So it is that the sullen stones of the Stanton Drews Stone circle are said to be the petrified bodies of the guests, whilst the three stones known as "The Cove," a grouping of two standing and one recumbent stones that stand in the garden of the village pub – The Druid’s Arms – are said to be the mortal remains of the bride, bridegroom and parson.
WARNING DON'T COUNT THE STONES!
There is also a tradition that confusion, or even death, awaits anyone who attempts to count the stones at Stanton Drew. Some say that they can never be counted accurately since attempts to do so will always yield a different total.
Others say that if you do attempt to count the number of stones that make up the Stanton Drew Stone Circle you will drop dead before completing the task.