Hands-up folks, which of you had even heard of the Priddy Circles before last week? I would not anticipate there to be a large number of people, even locals, who had and I’m afraid to admit that I would not be among them.
It’s not surprising that they’re so little known as any reference to them makes only vague speculation as to their former purpose. The same could also be said to be true of Stonehenge, but, as any users of the A303 will attest, the mysterious splendour Stonehenge has captured the imagination of many, whereas Priddy Circles have remained unacknowledged by most.
I align them with Stonehenge because academic research on the phenomenon has claimed that ‘although no dating evidence has been found, they appear to be contemporary with Stonehenge’.
They are also said to probably be ‘Neolithic ritual or ceremonial monuments similar to a henge, they are external rather than internal ditches makes them unique in Britain and all this makes the circles the most important surviving Neolithic sites in Somerset’.
The recent rise in interest of the site is as a result of discoveries that English Heritage experts have been investigating claims that one of the four Priddy Circles has been obliterated.
Land near the circles appears to have been recently re-seeded and tree saplings have been planted close by.
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 makes it a criminal offence to destroy or damage a scheduled monument including agriculture, forestry, flooding and tipping.
If you want to view the site for yourself, they can be located using the map above – you are looking for an arrangement of four circular earthwork enclosures. The circles, each nearly 200m across, are best seen from the air. The damaged circle was the most clearly defined of the four. The total arrangement covers roughly 1.2km.
Other eyewitness accounts can be found at the Modern Antiquarian website. English Heritage has refused to be drawn on the extent of the alleged damage at this stage.
To see the full extent of the damage from an aerial perspective, check-out these astounding photos by Pete Glastonbury.
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Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website