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by Alan S

We last featured the stone circle on Stannon Moor here about 9 years ago! So a revisit was long overdue. Especially as I’d heard of a 4-stone ‘setting’ close to the circle that I’d not noticed on my last visit. I arranged to meet up once again with Dr. Sandy Gerrard along with Gordon and Janet from ACE Archaeology Club in Devon for a return visit to the circle and environs.

The stone setting is enigmatic, consisting of two pairs of stones, roughly aligned to the south-east with Stannon Moor and Louden Hill stone circles (although the circles are not intervisible). The setting is a staggered linear arrangement of four small end-set granite slabs.

The stone setting, with Stannon circle on the horizon

The northern two slabs of the setting are 1.25m apart on a north-south axis, the greater width of each of these northern slabs is set transversely to the axis of the pair. The southern two slabs are 2m apart on a NNW-SSE axis, with their northern slab 1.8m south-west of the southern slab in the northern pair. The southern two slabs are smaller than those to the north, with their greatest width roughly in line with the axis of the pair.

Taking a look around, we espied a small stone on the horizon to the south, which appeared to be in direct alignment with the two southern stones. Without the recent dry weather, I doubt we would have spotted this stone from the setting.

The southern stones of the setting, with the horizon stone arrowed.

Leaving a ranging pole as a guide we walked south where further stones, 10 or 11 in total, also appeared to line up, for a distance of around 150m. Did we have a row?

The southernmost stone appeared to have the attributes of a ‘blocking’ stone, a common feature of Neolithic stone rows. Looking roughly north-east, the blocking stone lined up with a large moorstone to point directly at the notch on Rough Tor – was this our first landscape treat? Is it an astronomical alignment?

View from the southern blocking stone toward Rough Tor.

Walking up and down the row, several other treats and tricks immediately became apparent:

  • From the north walking south, Brown Willy appears on the south-east horizon as soon as the stone setting is left behind, a view which grows the further south you travel.
  • Around 2/3rds along the row, Alex Tor to the south-west dips below the horizon, disappearing from view.
  • Walking north, there are three ‘sea triangles’ to be seen to the west, which disappear one by one as you move north.
  • From the southern blocking stone, the viewer appears to be in the centre of a landscape bowl, an omphalos moment perhaps?

This row, if that is what it is – and all the signs point that way – is not currently listed on the HER, but once the survey notes have been analysed, with field notes and measurements properly written up on our sister site: The Stone Rows of Great Britain we shall almost certainly be taking steps to ensure it is included.

Many thanks to Sandy, Gordon, and Janet for an interesting day out on the moors!

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