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HER Number:MDV6534
Name:Fernworthy or Froggymead Stone Circle

Summary

Fernworthy stone circle comprises 27 stones, standing up to 1.1 metres high, forming a 20 metre diameter circle. Excavation by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee revealed that the original ground surface was covered by a layer of wood charcoal. Part of a prehistoric ceremonial complex that also includes two stone alignments to the south of the circle and another to the north together with five barrows. The monument is situated on a gentle east facing slope overlooking the valley of the South Teign River.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 654 841
Map Sheet:SX68SE
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • MPP Archaeological Item Dataset: 144123
  • National Monuments Record: SX68SE56
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX68SE/2
  • Old SAM County Ref: 593A
  • Old SAM Ref: 28672
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SX68SE56
  • Pastscape: 443854

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • STONE CIRCLE (Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 701 BC (Between))

Full description

Baring Gould, S., 1898, Fifth Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee, 107-110 (Article in Serial). SDV337066.

Almost a true circle; 27 stones standing. A gap in south circumference due to removal of a stone or stones. The interior was examined by driving a trench through it, cut through the peat. No meat earth. Floor of calm strewn with pieces of wood charcoal. Fires seem to have been lit all over the floor of the circle; probably the site of funeral feasts or a crematorium. Other details: Plate 3-5.


Burnard, R., 1906, Early Man, 357 (Article in Serial). SDV322231.

At Fernworthy there is a group consisting of a "sacred" circle, two cairns, stone rows and a kistvaen. Three cairns have been disturbed. One contained a kistvaen previously rifled, but it still contained masses of fragmentary burnt bones unidentifiable but characteristic of human remains. One cairn yielded a tiny flint chip. The purpose of this group appears sepulchral. One cairn not disturbed was explored in 1897. Originally surrounded by standing stones 3 still in position, 2-3m from existing foot of slope of barrow. This cairn was built of surface stones, and the central pit also filled with stones. About 1.37 meters from the surface of the pit was a small piece of oxidised bronze with fragments of fibrous wood attached; probably remains of a small knife or spearhead. Nearby were pottery and a bone button.


Allcroft, A. H., 1922, Unknown, 173-342 (Article in Serial). SDV344949.


Brailsford, J. W., 1938, Bronze Age Stone Monuments of Dartmoor, 448 (Article in Serial). SDV304210.


Worth, R. H., 1946, The Stone Rows of Dartmoor. Part 1, 303-4, Plate 38 (Article in Serial). SDV251172.

North of double stone row with cairn, 22 metres from the centre of the cairn to the centre of a stone circle. Nearly complete, 26 stones standing. Examined 1898, nothing found except charcoal lying on the surface of the calm. No trace of any burial.


Worth, R. H., 1953, Dartmoor, 222, Fig. 78 (Monograph). SDV231148.


Spooner, G. M. + Birkett Dixon, E., 1955, Note on the Antiquities situated in the Forestry Commission ground at Fernworthy and Bellever. Appendix 1 (Report - non-specific). SDV351955.


Fox, A., 1973, South West England 3,500BC - AD600 (Revised Edition), 77 (Monograph). SDV16216.

Excavation has thrown little light on the people who built the stone circles or what they did there. At Fernworthy, the whole of the interior was found to be covered with charcoal, presumably scattered during a ceremony.


Turner, J. R., 1976, Ancient Monuments on Forestry Commission Land. Field Report (Report - non-specific). SDV351823.

Fernworthy Plantation. Froggymeade 3D
Site visit 1976. Stone circle to the north of a cairn (2D). 19.5 metres diameter with 27 stones. The largest is 1.5 by 0.4 metres, standing 1.1 metres above the ground. The area has been cleared as one open space.
Included in 1955 Spooner and Dixon report (B) Region North of the South Teign (Froggymeade, Toms Hilll and Hemstone), Site No. 3.


Dartmoor National Park Authority + Forestry Commission + Dartmoor Preservation Association, 1976, Conservation of Ancient Monuments. The Report of a Working Party (Report - non-specific). SDV248248.

Stone circle included in the 1955 Spooner-Dixon report (b) region South Teign site number 3 / site number 3d in Fernworthy (sketch map in field report).


Turner, J., 1978, Report of Work Carried Out by the Forestry Commission since January 1976 (Report - non-specific). SDV351816.

Froggymead (D). No work has been carried out on this group of sites since February 1976. The clearance zone of this group should be marked out with posts as one open space so that there would be no need for any site number posts inside the clearance zone, making the site more photographic. Vegetation on these sites are very (?), in fact site 7D (cairn) looks in excellent condition.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1978, SX68SE56 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV275632.

Stone circle 19.5 metres in diameter. 27 stones, the largest being 1.1 metres high.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV319854.

Not visible on the Royal Air Force 1946 aerial photographs due to tree cover..


Turner, J. R., 1990, Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor (Article in Serial). SDV229817.

Stone circle 19.5 metres in diameter. 27 stones standing. Between two double stone rows.


Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, 162-5, Fig. 35.7 (Monograph). SDV219155.


Gerrard, S., 1992-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., MPP 144123 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

Stone circle forming part of ritual complex at SX65468408. Some animal poaching around s stones. Slight hollows and banks within the circle are probably the result of Dartmoor Exploration Committee Excavation. Two loose stones in south sector have been added to complete the circle.


Chapman, H., 1995, Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigation (Report - Survey). SDV275631.

Centred at SX65488412 in a clearing in Fernworthy Forest is a stone circle currently containing 29 stones (excluding trigger stones). It has an internal diameter of 19.3 meters north-south by 18.6 meters east-west and is circular for all but an inward-turning kink in the northern edge.
The stones average between 0.6 meters and 0.5 meters tall, although they are generally larger in the south side, being up to 1.1 meters tall. Two stones not depicted by Butler or Worth visible in the southern edge nearly flush with the ground.
Around the stones in the south-east, south-west and north-west areas of the circle are substantial erosion hollows with channels leading away under the adjacent trees. Inside the circle are a number of amorphous hollows, mounds and scarps which are probably associated with the excavation work of 1897 which found little except for charcoal over the surface of the bedrock.


Dartmoor National Park Authority, 1996, Condition Survey of Identified Archaeology within Woodland Areas 1996 (Un-published). SDV351820.

Fernworthy. Froggymeade Group 3D. Site visit 27th September 1996. Stone circle. Unmarked.


Ordnance Survey, 2011, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV346129.

'Fernworthy Circle Stone Circle' depicted on the modern mapping. Map object based on this Source.


English Heritage, 2011, National Heritage List for England (National Heritage List for England). SDV347072.

The monument, which falls into two areas, includes a stone circle, three stone alignments and five cairns situated on a gentle east facing slope overlooking the valley of the South Teign River. The stone circle, known as Fernworthy Circle,includes 27 stones, standing up to 1.1 meters high, forming a 20 meter diameter circle. Excavation by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee revealed that the original ground surface was covered by a layer of wood charcoal. Two stone alignments lie to the south of the stone circle. The eastern alignment is also of double row type, measures 20.5 meters long and its upper end is denoted by a small cairn containing a cist. The third alignment lies north of the stone circle and survives as a double line of stones extending towards a small cairn. The final cairn within the monument lies south east of the stone circle.


Newman, P., 2013, Fernworthy Forest Sites Survey (Un-published). SDV351708.


Newman , P., 2013, The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon, 5-11, 61-2, Figs. 3-4, 8-11, 55 (Report - Survey). SDV351784.

Part of a ceremonial complex that also includes three stones rows and four barrows. Froggymead or Fernworthy stone circle was first described in some detail by Samuel Rowe in 1830. It was illustrated by Spence Bate in 1871 and the first measured survey was undertaken by Lukis in 1879. Less than 20 years later it was subject to a survey and excavation by the Dartmoor Exploration Committee. A trench was cut through the circle revealing that its floor had been scattered with charcoal from fires. Earlier 20th century photos show the circle in a moorland setting prior to tree planting.
The circle comprises 27 upright granite stones with an internal diameter of 19.2-19.6 metres. Two additional stones lying flush with the ground in what was originally recorded by Rowe to be a gap with hollows where stones stood are probably recent additions. The circle is among the more regular of Dartmoor's stone circles and it is suggested that the Dartmoor Exploration Committee may have moved some of the stones to what they considered to be a more correct appearance which explains why several stones shown in Lukis' plan of 1879 appear displaced and why another shown has fallen is now upright.
The stones vary in shape but fall into two broad categories; slabs set edgewise and posts narrower than they are broad. The tallest stone is 0.95 metres high and the shortest is 0.3 metres high. A low, linear earthwork within the circle may be the result of erosion or the remains of disturbance by the excavations in 1899. Erosions hollows have now formed around some of the stones which often hold water and the north-west side of the circle is very wet.
The planting of conifers means that the stone circle has lost the outward vista it once possessed. However, there is some evidence to suggest that such monuments were originally placed in especially prepared woodland clearings but the tall, dense conifers provide an equally false context.
Froggymead is one of only 14 stone circles surviving on Dartmoor in an upstanding state. It is one of only two circles on Dartmoor that can be described as forming a central component of a ceremonial complex (the other is Merrivale).


National Monument Record, 2014, Pastscape, 443854 (Website). SDV355682.

Bronze Age stone circle in a clearing in Fernworthy Forest. The circle is 19.3m in diameter, although a slight kink in the North side reduces the diameter at that point to 18.6m. 29 stones are visible. NMR No. SX68SE56. Record last updated: N/A

Sources / Further Reading

  • Monograph: Fox, A.. 1973. South West England 3,500BC - AD600 (Revised Edition). South West England. Hardback Volume. 77.
  • Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Two. Paperback Volume. 162-5, Fig. 35.7.
  • Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1946. The Stone Rows of Dartmoor. Part 1. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 78. A5 Hardback. 303-4, Plate 38.
  • Article in Serial: Turner, J. R.. 1990. Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 48. Paperback Volume.
  • Monograph: Worth, R. H.. 1953. Dartmoor. Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 222, Fig. 78.
  • Report - non-specific: Dartmoor National Park Authority + Forestry Commission + Dartmoor Preservation Association. 1976. Conservation of Ancient Monuments. The Report of a Working Party. Dartmoor National Park Authority Field Report. A4 Bound.
  • Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1992-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. MPP 144123.
  • Article in Serial: Baring Gould, S.. 1898. Fifth Report of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 38. A5 Hardback. 107-110.
  • Report - Survey: Chapman, H.. 1995. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigation. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Field Investigations. Website.
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1978. SX68SE56. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
  • Interpretation: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
  • Article in Serial: Brailsford, J. W.. 1938. Bronze Age Stone Monuments of Dartmoor. Antiquity. 12. 448.
  • Article in Serial: Burnard, R.. 1906. Early Man. Victoria History of the County of Devon. 1. A4 Hardback. 357.
  • Article in Serial: Allcroft, A. H.. 1922. Unknown. Archaeological Journal. 79. Unknown. 173-342.
  • National Heritage List for England: English Heritage. 2011. National Heritage List for England. Website.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2011. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey. Map (Digital).
  • Report - non-specific: Spooner, G. M. + Birkett Dixon, E.. 1955. Note on the Antiquities situated in the Forestry Commission ground at Fernworthy and Bellever. Appendix 1. Dartmoor Preservation Association. Digital.
  • Report - non-specific: Turner, J.. 1978. Report of Work Carried Out by the Forestry Commission since January 1976. A4 Stapled.
  • Un-published: Newman, P.. 2013. Fernworthy Forest Sites Survey. Digital.
  • Report - Survey: Newman , P.. 2013. The Archaeology of Fernworthy Forest, Dartmoor, Devon. Digital + A4. 5-11, 61-2, Figs. 3-4, 8-11, 55.
  • Report - non-specific: Turner, J. R.. 1976. Ancient Monuments on Forestry Commission Land. Field Report. Dartmoor National Park Authority Field Report. A4 Comb Bound.
  • Un-published: Dartmoor National Park Authority. 1996. Condition Survey of Identified Archaeology within Woodland Areas 1996. Condition Survey of Identified Archaeology within Woodland Areas. A4 Ring Bound.
  • Website: National Monument Record. 2014. Pastscape. http://www.pastscape.org.uk. Website. 443854.

Associated Monuments

MDV14887Related to: Cairn at southern end of stone row at Fernworthy (Monument)
MDV6563Related to: Cairn north of the northern stone row at Fernworthy (Monument)
MDV14885Related to: Cairn south of the stone circle at Fernworthy (Monument)
MDV6560Related to: Cairn to east of Fernworthy stone circle (Monument)
MDV6719Related to: Cairn to south of Fernworthy Stone Circle (Monument)
MDV6556Related to: Eastern Stone row to south of Fernworthy Stone Circle (Monument)
MDV6562Related to: Stone Row to north of Fernworthy Stone Circle (Monument)
MDV14886Related to: Western Stone Row to south of Fernworthy Stone Circle (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV6203 - Archaeological Survey of Fernworthy Forest
  • EDV6216 - Condition Surveys of Ancient Monuments on Forestry Commission Land

Date Last Edited:Jun 17 2014 3:08PM