The highest stone circle in southern England has been found on a weather-battered slice of moorland in Devon.
Situated 525 metres (1,722ft) above sea level, the ancient site is the first stone circle to be found on Dartmoor for more than a century.
The circle is the second largest on the moor and archaeologists believe it was probably part of a “sacred arc” of circles around the north-eastern edge.
Its discovery adds weight to the theory that there was some kind of planning and liaison between the communities living on Dartmoor in the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.
Many stone circles were prodded and probed in Victorian times and before, so the opportunity to apply modern scientific methods to a previously unexamined one is particularly exciting.
Jane Marchand, senior archaeologist at Dartmoor national park, said: “The discovery is providing an opportunity for investigation using the very latest archaeological scientific methods to provide long-awaited insights into the chronology, construction and the purpose of these most elusive and iconic of Dartmoor’s prehistoric monuments.”
With a diameter of 34 metres (112ft), the circle consists of 30 recumbent stones, plus one more lying in a gap just outside the circle and now incorporated into an unfinished enclosure wall.
The stones probably came from the nearby Sittaford Tor itself and are of a fairly uniform size, suggesting they were carefully chosen. Packing stones visible around the bases of some of these indicate that they were originally upright. . . . .