After the surprisingly wonderful ruined circle at Rempstone I have to say that I was slightly under-whelmed by Kingston Russell, not a feeling that I’m used to when encountering prehistoric sites. Did Burl have the same feeling too? Maybe that’s why it doesn’t appear in his book. It just didn’t seem to have the oomph factor and the views from this setting are kind of so-so rather than wow! (as at Hampton). I think possibly the flatness of it all as well, the anticipation built up by the spotting of two very large stones in the hedgerow (one next to the farm entrance where you can just about park and the other about half way between there and the circle) and the lack of a dramatic sky to set it off probably didn’t help either. The only thing that I thought might redeem it would be to go there at night with a clear sky, some time in the near future, and try some very long exposures. That should do it.
Maybe it's just the time of year but Kingston Russell seems much more visible on the approach from The Grey Mare & Her Colts than last time I was here, perhaps when the tree leaves , and hedges grow back and the grass is longer it would be as I remember it.
There was no sign of the sign here anymore either, a circle without the sign, even better!
Along with Hampton Down what I noticed most on this trip was the other ancient monuments all in view from each of these sites, their interconnectedness in the landscape. You might argue that this is because a lot of the monuments are on hills but the view between them only really opens up within the circles themselves.
From standing in the center of Kingston Russell I have a view all the way across to Abbotsbury, Golden Cap, Seatown and Lyme Regis.
Just two fields away from The Grey Mare lies Kingston Russell stone circle. The world's leading authority on stone circles, Aubrey Burl, didn't put this circle in his definitive field guide to British stone circles which has caused much puzzlement in the amateur antiquarian community over the years. I wanted to see the stones for myself, especially as Moth said he liked it so much.
Sadly not one of the stones stand any more, but there are lots of stones to see, perhaps 18 of them, some really quite big lying on the ground next to the place where they once stood. The circle's diameter is about 15ms (I'm quite bad at guessing these things). This would have been a real beauty. And actually, it still is. The internal space is still clearly marked out and although the drama and life was destroyed by whoever pulled the stones down, the circle is not yet dead. I liked it a lot. The farmer had just been and mowed carefully round the circle and the place smelled fabulous.
Re-erect them stones!
This post appears as part of the weblog entry Dorset dash
Access getting on for a couple of miles walking I guess. Visit Grey Mare and her Colts on the way. Fairly flat and good going along a bridlepath. Could get fairly muddy. OS map helpful.
We parked at a junction between lane, farm track and bridlepath at SY499868. Dickie gives good directions here. (The barrow he refers to is of course, the Grey Mare and her Colts.)
Thursday 18 September 2003
We weren't expecting much. After all, it's not even in Burl...!
WRONG!!!!! Having since read the reports on this website, I know we're not alone, but we thought this is an unsung marvel. I'd not researched it, just spotted it on the Landranger earlier in the day while doing a bit of 'on the hoof' planning....
So OK, all the stones are down, but they're BIG, there're loads of them and they form (get this) a BIG CIRCLE!!!! Looked like the views would be superb on a clear day too!!!!
Where we got lucky was that the field was well stocked with (stop reading Ocifant!) stubborn but placid, big but hungry cows. And the reason this was lucky is that they had obviously been grazing here for quite a while and the circle was not overgrown AT ALL, making viewing it much easier!
After stomping around the circle taking photos, our bovine friends finally took the hint and left the circle, meaning I had the opportunity to take the same photos without the friesian ornamentation. Which, of course, I had to do.
For the record (in the absence of Burl providing statistics) and as a shock for anyone who knows me, we paced out the diameter of the circle and made it around 26-28 yards across. I also uncharacteristically counted the stones and made it 18 OR 19 - diplomatic huh? (See other fieldnotes below.)
We did however wonder if some of these stones were broken parts, and reckoned that the original circle may have 'only' been 16 stones. As the vast majority, if not all, seem to have been around 5 feet or more high, this wouldn't have taken away from what would have been a pretty spectacular circle!
Another one that I'd love to see re-erected!!!! I'm soooo glad we didn't miss it!!!!
Yeah, it's all kind of flat really. But great setting, the circle was overgrown so the stones were all but invisible other than when stood on top of each. The overgrown form however stands out in the otherwise kempt field. Didn't notice any sign of previously mentioned outer bank/ditch. I actually counted 19 stones but lets not get into one of those debates.
Hope the directions below help (also for Grey Mare & Her Colts that have been particularly illusive to me)
On the road to Abbotsbury from the A35 at Winterbourne Abbas, after a signpost right for Littlebredy and before you get to Portesham (see parking notes for Hell Stone) , there is a left turn signposted for the Hardy Monument. At this junction take the (very)minor road to the right (west). After about a mile the road bends sharply to the left and follows the valley round. At that point there is a layby to park. Return back up the road to the footpath that head NW up the hill. Shortly up this path you are faced with a 3-way split. The Public Footpath heads through a Private Farm. Take the Bridleway that heads straight on and hug the hedge to your left. After about 400yds there's a footpath through the hedge on the left. Follow this for about a hundred yards and the barrow is over another hedge.
Return to bridelway and follow for another 3/4 mile and just before the large clump of trees Kingston Russell Stone Circle is in a field on the left through a gated gap in the hedge.
The other stone circle that people have referred to below, is the Hampton circle. Its referred to on this website as Hampton Down.
No one seems to be able to agree on its name. TMA refers to it as Hampton Hill Stone Circle on page 213, and Hampton Down on page 128. Aubrey Burl, in his 1995 book, A Guide to Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany refers to it as Hampton Down Stone Circle (pages 67 and 68). The OS map (Explorer OL15. 596865) refers to it as simply Hampton Stone Circle.
PS - Burl also doesn't include Kingston Russell in his book and his book is supposed to have all but the fake or badly ruined. Very strange.
Strangely this is marked on several Road Atlases despite it being over a kilometre from any road (and a very minor road at that), and no obvious way to get there without an OS map or good instructions.
18 recumbent stones in a very circular circle (if you get what I mean). Looks like an info board was there, but now just a short metal pole. Mix of medium and small stones, all from same type of stone (not that I'm a geologist). In a cow field which makes the pic from Joolio Geordio interesting coz in that one it's been prepared for crops. Very chilled out. Excellent views. I guess Julian had a reason not to put this in TMA?
This is a wonderful circle situated at the end (or start) of a 3 mile walk encompassing The Grey Mare, The Hellstone and another stone circle. I recommend following the proper footpath as the path coming from the North towards it (marked on the OS map) is effectively non-existent.
Whilst you are here, make sure you visit the site marked 'Enclosure' on the OS map. To find this from the circle, head north down the side of the field away from the circle and perpendicular to the path. On the other side of the field go through the gate and head left. Keep walking past some sinkholes? until you reach the crest of the hill. You should find a horseshoe shaped banked enclosure about 15-20 feet across overlooking the most amazing view.
The circle was special but the view from the enclosure was something else entirely. Wow.
If anyone has any ideas about what this may have been, I'd love to know...
I visited the Kingston Russell stone circle on a sunny Saturday, on a walk to include the Grey mare and her Colts, just down the bridle path.
The Kingston Russell circle isn't in the Antiquarian, but it should be. Overlooking the village of Abbotsbury and the English Channel across beautiful West Dorset, the location is superb.
There are 18 stones, all now lying flat, still in a clear circle, in a hilltop location, in farmland. All but 2 are sedimentary rock, full of pebbles and shells, the other 2, on the side farthest away from the sea appear to be Granite. Better even than the circle, but unremarked upon on the English Heritage sign (broken) is a clear and complete ditch around the outside of the stones, a clear henge, now only a few inches deep, but surviving for now.
I took Lydis, my 5 yr old daughter, her first circle, she was interested and impressed. I told her it was reputed to be 4000 yrs old, before Christ. So is that before God then she asked?
I had lived 20 minutes drive from this site until I was 18 and never knew it was here before today, it is complete and beautiful and Dorset. Talking to my father later in the day, he has lived in Weymouth all his life, he said it used to be considered a Roman Temple. It definitely isn't that.
If you had to drag a bunch of megaliths up a hill and dig a ditch. for any reason, spiritual or secular, there wouldn't be many better places to do it, the views, under the local landmark of Hardy's monument and absolutely beautiful, are reason enough to visit, but it's a great circle as well. It's easily signposted on a bridle path and worth the walk.
Those Neolithic construction workers had incredible views when they ate their sandwiches.