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A rival to Stonehenge? Geophysical survey at Stanton Drew, England

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 March 2015

Andrew David
Centre for Archaeology, English Heritage, Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth PO4 9LD, UK
Mark Cole
64 Agraria Road, Guildford GU2 5LG, UK
Tim Horsley
Dept of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford, West Yorkshire BD7 1DP, UK
Neil Linford
Centre for Archaeology, English Heritage, Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth PO4 9LD, UK
Paul Linford
Centre for Archaeology, English Heritage, Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth PO4 9LD, UK
Louise Martin
Centre for Archaeology, English Heritage, Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth PO4 9LD, UK


The development of geophysical survey remains a spearhead-priority for new research and cultural resource management alike – since geophysics can find and map sites without destroying them. However, there are current weaknesses of sensitivity and resolution – the instruments cannot easily “see” small features like graves and post-holes of which so many ancient sites are principally composed. Great hopes have been invested in caesium vapour magnetometers, which the Centre for Archaeology has been promoting in England – perhaps nowhere with such dramatic success as at Stanton Drew, Somerset. Here, geophysical techniques have brought to light the lines of broad circles belonging to a previously unrecognised henge monument, and the caesium magnetometer showed these circles to be composed of individual pits about 1.4 m in diameter. The fine focus achieved for these buried features augers well for the discovery and preservation of similar sites and monuments in the future.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd. 2004

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