Previously Unknown Stone Circle Discovered on Dartmoor May 11, 2015 17:03:41 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on May 11, 2015 17:03:41 GMT -5
4,000-Year-Old Stone Circle Discovered on Dartmoor
Archaeologists are investigating the first stone circle discovered on the highest section of Dartmoor in more than a century. The set – at least 4,000-years-old – is the highest circle in southern England and the second-largest on Dartmoor. Thirty-four meters (111 feet) in diameter and at 525 meters (1,722 feet) on the northern part of the moor near Sittaford Tor, the circle would have been “very impressive” and dominated the surrounding landscape, the researchers say. The circle was discovered in 2007 by independent academic researcher Alan Endacott. Now geophysical investigations are revealing more about the ancient site.
“It is fantastic, very exciting,” said Andy Crabb, an archaeologist for the national park and Historic England. “Most of them were pretty well researched by antiquarians and early archaeologist in Victorian times. To be able to investigate one now is really exciting.”
The first radio-carbon testing ever carried out on a Dartmoor circle, analyzing the soil beneath stones, shows they fell about 4,000 years ago. Investigators are sure the stones were once upright because of packing material discovered around their bases.
The discovery fits a pattern of a “sacred” arc of similar stone circles located in the northeastern part of Dartmoor – eight separate circles form the crescent, from Whit Moor running south to Grey Wethers. The layout of the arc suggests there was planning and liaison among the communities living on Dartmoor in the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age 5,000-4,000 years ago, researchers say.
Thirty of the stones in the Sittaford circle are lying flat. One is in a gap outside the circle and is incorporated into an unfinished enclosure wall. Geophysical surveys have so far also revealed a wide ditch running in a line outside the circle. Archaeologists believe the stones probably came from Sittaford Tor about a mile west of Fernworthy Reservoir.
Crabb said the circle was discovered by Mr. Endacott after undergrowth was destroyed in a controlled burn by commoners, exposing the stones.
The site is now being investigated, thanks to a Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) scheme, Moor Than Meets The Eye. The information released so far comes from preliminary results. Moor Than Meets The Eye, a partnership involving 12 bodies, including the national park, Dartmoor commoners, Devon County Council, the Duchy of Cornwall and conservation organizations, has been given £1.9 ($2.9) million from the National Lottery and will run for five years.
Source: P. Goodwin, Western Morning News, May 10, 2015.