In the analysis of axisymmetric problems, it is often imperative that aspects of geometry, material properties and loading characteristics are either maintained as constants or represented by continuous functions in the circumferential direction. In the case of radial consolidation beneath a circular embankment by vertical drains (i.e. circular oil tanks or silos), the discrete system of vertical drains can be substituted by continuous concentric rings of equivalent drain walls. An equivalent value for the coefficient of permeability of the soil is obtained by matching the degree of consolidation of a unit cell model. A rigorous solution to the continuity equation of radial drainage towards cylindrical drain walls is presented and verified by comparing its results with existing unit cell model. The proposed model is then adopted to analyse the consolidation process by vertical drains at the Skå-Edeby circular test embankment (Area II). The calculated values of settlement, lateral displacement and excess pore water pressure indicate good agreement with the field measurements.