Beyond Stonehenge: Mystical Henges and Stone Circles

Stone circles are ancient purpose-built rock structures found all over the world. Their origins and uses are a source of continuing research and debate. The number of standing stones in a circle can range from 4 to Some stone circles are concentric. Some are elliptical or oval. Others are recumbent, in which a single stone is laid flat between the highest two upright pillars.

Stone circles dating from the Bronze Age discovered in China’s Gobi Desert

One of Britain’s most impressive prehistoric monuments sits on a low hill to the east of Keswick with a ring of mountains surrounding it. Castlerigg Stone Circle is one of the earliest stone circles to be found in Britain and is important in terms of megalithic astronomy and geometry. Castlerigg Stone Circle stands on a superb natural plateau commanding a superb degree view over the surrounding fells.

It is composed of 38 free standing stones, some up to 3 metres 10 feet high. It is one of Britain’s earliest stone circles dating back to the Neolithic period to years ago. Try counting the number of standing stones, can you come up with the same number twice?

The stone circles of the British Isles are thought to have an indigenous origin and date from around – B.C. They arose in the context of the rise of.

This rich archaeological landscape includes stone circles, standing stones, burial cairns and cists, as well as hut circles and an extensive field system, all dating to between and BC. The stone circles were preceded by elaborate timber circles on exactly the same sites. They were associated with religious activities dating back around 4, years. Cremation and inhumation burials were placed in the circles, long after they were first built.

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9 of Scotland’s ancient (and not so ancient) stone circles and where to find them

Until 22 possible and reported stone circles were known within the National Park. Since their construction from around the 3 rd millennium BC, these monuments have been subjected to destruction, disturbance and change by people and their livestock. This often makes understanding their original use very difficult. In , following a moorland fire, an amateur archaeologist noticed several large stones, half concealed in the peat m south-west of Sittaford Tor on northern Dartmoor.

Investigating further, he discovered a circle of thirty large granites slabs all of which were lying flat on the ground.

Although there are more than stone circles in Britain, the great majority of them are Bronze Age burial monuments (dating from about – BC).

An ancient wonder of the world, Stonehenge is a classic example of Neolithic engineering and one of the best-preserved monuments of its kind in Europe. Stone circles were important features of burials and religious rituals during the Neolithic period, so it should come as no surprise that there are a large number dotted around the country — over 1,, to be exact.

Situated at the peak of a small hill and flanked by a series of larger peaks, including Blencathra, Skiddaw, and Helvellyn, the latter the second highest peak in England, this landscape is arguably some of the most dramatic in the entire country. In fact, during the 19 th century, Castlerigg was an inspiration to a number of poets, painters, and novelists belonging to the Romantic movement, such as John Keats and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Castlerigg, Lake District, Cumbria, England. This stone circle will be familiar to anyone who is a fan of Disney; the movie Brave featured it. Arranged in the form of a cross with a central stone circle, the Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides were once the focus of ritual activity during the Bronze Age. According to legend, the stones were created when, after rejecting Christianity, a group of giants was turned into rock. Callanish standing stones on the Isle of Lewis.

Made up of about 40 stones in a near-perfect circle, Moel Ty Uchaf is believed to have once been a burial site, as it has a cist — a small coffin-like box made out of stone — in its center. Archaeologists, however, believe Long Meg actually acted as a prehistoric sundial to cast a shadow over the circle. What is interesting about Long Meg are the motifs that are carved into it; if you look closely, you can see a cup circled by three rings, three figures, and some spirals and arcs.

‘Ancient’ Bronze Age stone circle in Scotland was actually built in 1990s

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, about 2 miles 3. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earthworks. It is in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. Stonehenge — Public Domain.

Find out about Somerset’s very own Stone Circles dating back years, with three stone circles still standing which can be visited easily.

The purpose of Scotland’s ancient stone circles is one of archaeology’s most enduring mysteries. A new theory claims to hold the answer. Two of these stone circles — Stenness and Callanish, on the isles of Orkney and Lewis respectively — are believed to be among the UK’s oldest, dating back some 5, years. There are many more scattered around the Scottish countryside. As some of the stones weigh 10 or more tonnes, transporting them was a considerable undertaking.

But the real reason for their creation, and why they were placed in the locations where they are found, has long been a mystery. One group of researchers claim to have the answer. They have found evidence that these stone circles were erected with cosmic influences: that is, they were placed specifically to better see the Sun, the Moon and the stars. Stenness and Callanish were built some 5, years ago during the Neolithic period, more commonly known as the Stone Age.

This was a time when communities had already settled into a farming lifestyle. Soon after, Neolithic farmers started to create places to commemorate the dead.

Drombeg Stone Circle and Fulacht Fiadh, Co. Cork

The celebrated stone circle standing proud on Salisbury Plain with its trademark lintel-topped sarsens has been an enduring source of fascination for millennia. The first monument there, a circular ditch and bank, was dug in c BC, and a timber or stone circle erected inside it. Then, much later, in c BC, the first monoliths of local rock were brought in. Over the course of the next several hundred years, stones were put up, taken down, moved around, added to, and then finally re-erected to the shape we see today.

At Stonehenge, there is a circular bank, but it is inside a ditch, so these elements are the wrong way round. Given the large size of some of these places, the construction of these monuments would have required a considerable number of people to build them.

Like the other great stone circles of Britain, Waun Mawn is expected to date to the Neolithic around BC. Together with a Neolithic causewayed enclosure at.

Stone circles are an intrinsic part of our national and international heritage and yet so little is truly known about the stories they hold. Many have suggested that they are ritualistic sites that are aligned with the movements of the sun and the moon. However some stone circles have no recognised relationship with these alignments. After spending 15 years researching stone circles, it is my belief that the enormity of these megaliths must have had a much greater use than ritualistic purposes alone.

They would have been around at a time in history when there would have been no separation between everyday life and ritual, in that the quest for food would have been central to their existence and all actions would have been motivated by their ability to sustain life. Today we lead sedentary lives, spending most of our time indoors and when it comes to food we only need to think about earning enough money to be able to buy it from the supermarket rather than concerning ourselves with whether we will even have any.

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Summer Solstice or midsummer is the longest day of the year when, weather permitting, we can enjoy up to 17 hours of sunlight. Friday 21 June is officially the start of summer for those of us living in the western hemisphere, but it also has another meaning for pagans and druids. The day signifies rebirth and is also an opportunity to acknowledge the power of the sun, which is at its highest point in the sky. Stonehenge, the ancient stone circle in Wiltshire , is inundated by revellers every year who arrive in droves to watch the sun set on Midsummer Day.

In , over 13, people attended the site. Although the exact purpose of Stonehenge is unknown, it is believed to be a prehistoric temple aligned with the movements of the sun.

I would like to keep you up to date with my latest project on stone circles – this is a small gesture but I think you know my feelings towards you and your work for.

With almost daily bulletins from a team of dedicated Stonehenge geek’s we promise the latest news as it happens. The Blue Stones were from the Prescelly Mountains, located roughly miles away, at the southwestern tip of Wales. A stone circle is an ancient monument of standing stones. It is not always precisely circular, often forming an ellipse, or more rarely a setting of four stones laid on an arc of a circle.

The size and number of stones in a ‘circle’ varies from example to example. More than 1, stone circles have been catalogued for the British Isles and parts of Western Europe, mostly lying not more than miles from the sea. Erected thousands of years ago, their purpose is still something of a mystery.

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