The Stone Circle

Part of the stone circle within the henge

The ‘circle’ of stones within the henge has been interpreted, questioned and understood in different ways since the development of Antiquarian interests. On 10th June 1761, local man John Mander visited the site on the with the Rev Samuel Pegge of Whittington near Chesterfield. Both Mander and Pegge refer to the large stones of the circle being “formerly erect, now flat” (e.g. Pegge, 1783: 12 cited by Thompson, 1975: 7). The plan made by the noted local antiquarian Major Hayman Rooke published in the same year as Pegge’s account shows up to fifty two stones, whilst John Pilkington writing only six years later recorded thirty large stone and fourteen smaller ones irregularly mixed (Pilkington, 1789: 208). Accounts continued to produce differing numbers of stones in the circle and their location and vertical position. Sir John Gardner Wilkinson produced a plan showing over fifty stones, with two in the west ditch and five in the southern ditch and Brushfield (1900) had noted that several earlier authors had recorded that some of the stones, whilst not fully upright, had been ‘set edgeway’ into the ground. (cited by Thompson, 1975: 11). Heathcote (1956: 4) also noted the then recent work of Alexander Keiler at Avebury and the observation of the difference between the “tall, narrow, masculine type and the big, broad asymmetrical shape, representing the female.” but did not carry this line of analysis in respect of this monument. Today there is still a difference of opinion on the original disposition of the stones with some authors believing they were upright (e.g. Barnatt, 1990) or recumbent (e.g. Harding, 2003).

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