LANCET  (Langford and Churchill Environs Team) was formed in 2008 as a result of an initiative by Vince Russet, the County Archaeologist, to establish local community archaeology based groups to tackle local projects.

During 2008, the group met on several occasions to survey an old enclosure in Dolebury Woods close to the Iron Age fort at Dolebury Warren. See Gallery section “Dolebury Woods Survey”.

As a result of the discovery of a Bronze Age axe head by metal detectorists Dave and Bob Whalley at Stepstones Farm, the group turned its attention in 2009 to an unusual feature appearing in one of the fields at Stepstones, an annular crop circle. Although this had been recorded as a HER (historic environment record) site no. 414, no research had been carried out to assess its significance.

Having obtained permission from the Alvis Bros. to carry out some geophysical surveys, a date was set after the crop harvest to carry out a preliminary resistivity survey. This technique measures the electrical resistance of the soil typically to a depth of some 18 inches. It can show the presence of banks and ditches,  buried stone work, and post holes A more sophisticated technique “pseudosectioning” was used, with some success, to measure the resisitivity to much greater depths through a section of the surveyed area.

The results of the survey which was carried out by Jill Polak and her helpers from Clevedon, on 22 August 2009 are shown in the Gallery section see “Stepstones Resistivity Survey”.  Also included here in the Research topics section are Jill’s notes on her preliminary observations, which speculated that the ring might possibly have been a Type 1 (single opening) henge. 

As the field was shortly due to be ploughed, it was decided to follow up the resistivity survey with a field walk, and also to enlist the help of the Congresbury group YCCART to carry out a magnetometry survey.

On a rather wet and windy 3 September 2009, over 30 volunteers turned out to conduct a field walk over several acres in the vicinity of the crop circle. Some 44 grids of 25metre x 25metre were measured out, and volunteers collected  from the surface any foreign objects that were not felt to be indigenous to the field. An interesting challenge, resulting in copious amounts of terracotta and the odd machinery part!  The finds from each square were then placed in a labelled bag for future analysis.

A detailed magnetometry survey was carried out by Chris Short and his team on  14 September 2009. This technique which measures variations in the earth’s magnetic field can detect magnetic hot spots in the earth which can arise from hearth, pits or kiln fires. It can also detect other magnetic anomalies that could indicate buried buildings or earthworks. The results of this survey are also shown in the Gallery section. see “Stepstones Magnetometry Survey”.  However, the survey appears to have been somewhat inconclusive!

The analysis of the field finds was completed on 9 October 2009, and a photographic record of the more significant finds taken. See Gallery section “Stepstones Field Finds” to view the finds by each grid.  Once again, we are indebted to Jill Polak for her help and guidance with this part of the project. Of particular interest were the flint tools, a scraper(B7) and a blade (C5), which were possibly Mesolithic in origin.

In the summer of 2010, we are hoping that it might be possible to do some excavation work to see if we can uncover more clues as to the origin of the ring.