The view south to someone standing in the shallow valley known as Stone Close - adjacent to the village of Stanton Drew - is blocked by rising ground except where it gives way to expose a prominent hill some 3,335 metres away that once formed the horizon. This hill goes by the name of Round Hill because its north-eastern end presents as a spherical-shaped knoll. See photo. However, Round Hill cannot be seen from Stone Close these days because of hedges, trees, and modern buildings that stand in the way.
This was not the case 5,500 years ago when someone noticed how it was possible to build a massive circular fire, the centre of which made a 20-degree angle from south to where stars of the Southern Cross could be seen exiting Round Hill's highest point - now heavily forested.
Thanks to the earths atmosphere, stars disappear before coming to ground when viewed over a level horizon. But there was no such problem when viewed along the line seen above. With an altitude of 2-degrees, every star of the Southern Cross, at one time or another, was clearly seen from here.
Whist it's anybody's guess which of the four main stars of the cross became Neolithic man's object of interest, every one was becoming lower and lower at this time, so we suggest the star at the top, the red Gamma Crucis.
So this fire took in 40-degrees of the southern horizon to watch this star, or stars, as they left Round Hill and came to ground in-line with the South-South-West-Circle where it could be caught. This small circle also had a circular fire of timber at its centre.
So started the monuments of Stanton Drew.
So far, we have discovered that Stone Close held two timber fires. The fire in the middle of what would later become the Great Circle of stone, was made up of nine circles using about 450 timbers and had an outer diameter of some 120 megalithic yards.
The smaller SSW Circle had only three circles, three being Stone Age man's most important number.
A television programme, aired as long ago as 2001, told of the remains of this massive fire that archaeologists had found in the middle of the largest of Stanton Drew's three circles. And it was that very programme that got me interested in trying to solve Stonehenge in the first place.
To reiterate: Around 5,600 years ago, and well before Stonehenge was built, people many miles to the west of the Stonehenge site, constructed a monstrously large bonfire in what later became the second largest stone circle in England after Avebury. Known as the Great Circle, it was not alone, but accompanied by two others around one-third its size.
The remains of these circles can still be found at Stone Close in the valley of the River Chew, next to the village of Stanton Drew, some 5-miles south of Bristol.
So, far we have been looking south.