Druid's Circle

Stone Circle - Gwynedd

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SH 72292 74658 (GPS 38min) Diameter 24m x 24.8m (Meas.)
Visited August 2001 No magnetic anomalies.

A large, open circle with a double portalled entrance at the SW, this ring strongly reminded us of Lakeland circles such as Swinside. We counted 29 stones in the circle, with thirteen of them still standing. The stones had been erected in a substantial bank of rubble, this embankment gives the circle interior a dish-like appearance from some angles. The tallest stones stand at the NW, E and W, all of these are about 1.7m tall, and two of them have sinister legends associated with them. The Stone of Sacrifice stands at the east, this stone has a curved natural ledge at the top of its outer face, legend has it that the bodies of infants, sacrificed during ceremonies within the ring, were placed here. At the west stands the Deity Stone, this stone has a strangely anthropomorphic appearance, resembling a hooded human figure, its "head" seems to look straight at the circle centre. According to legend, this stone will strike down anyone who swears near to it. A sceptic is said to have tested the claim by going to the circle at night swearing and blaspheming, his corpse was found the next day lying at the foot of the Deity Stone. You have been warned!
Although the portal stones have fallen and the northern inner stone is missing, the entrance is still pretty evident today. The southern pair of portal stones are said to be aligned on the major southern moonset when viewed from the centre of the circle. This astronomical alignment of portal stones is another feature shared with the large open circles of the Lake District.
The circle was excavated in 1958, yielding several finds. Non-local quartz was found scattered in the circle and a central mass of local stone covered two cremations. Both of the cremations were those of children, one of which was found in a small cist covered by an enlarged Early Bronze Age food vessel. Other finds included a second food vessel, three whetstones and a small bronze knife.
The many Late Neolithic features of the circle and its proximity to the Graig Lwyd axe factory, only a quarter of a mile away, suggest an early date for its construction, which is somewhat at odds with the Bronze Age material found within it. The Bronze Age burials and deposits are thought to indicate secondary usage of the circle, a reuse of an earlier monument in the rituals of a later age.
There are several other megalithic monuments on Penmaenmawr, "The great stone headland", the remains of Redfarm, Circle 275 and Circle 278 all lie very close to the Druid's Circle.

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