With autumn at the door step, you might find yourself already beginning to pine for sun, sea and sand. However, here in the UK we are actually quite lucky! In my view, an autumnal outing can be as breathtaking, enlightening and memorable as a summer adventure. If you live in the UK, it’s likely that there is a stone circle or a monolith near you. The intrigue and past memories these ‘macro chips’ hold awaits you.
The French archaeologist Jean-Pierre Mohan, author of Le Monde des Megaliths described the unusual concentration of stone circles in the British Isles as follows “British Isles megalithism is outstanding in the abundance of standing stones and variety of circular architectural complexes of which they formed a part … strikingly original, they have no equivalent elsewhere in Europe – strongly supporting the argument that builders were independent.”
Stone circles date back 5000 years to the Neolithic period, and are thought to have evolved from earlier burial mounds. About 300-2500 BC stone circles began to appear in coastal and lowland areas towards the North of the country. This is probably due to what archaeologists describe as the Langdale axe industry – the centre of a specialised stone tool manufacturing at Great Langdale in England’s Lake District where many were made from unfounded boulders rather standing stones.
Casstlerigg stone circles in Cumbria , is one of the earliest stone circles built and archaeologists attribute it to those early axe manufacturers. AS the builders grew more skilful, stone circles attained more precision, popularity and began to spread inland. By the later Neolithic era circles grew in diameter, up to 400 meters in the case of outer circle at Avebury , and designs became more complex with double and triple rings.
The final phase of stone circle construction took place in early to mid-Bronze age, 2200 – 1500 BC, and numerous smaller circles (about 25 meters) were built. I t is thought that they were built by individual family groups rather than by larger groups of people like the bigger circles would have required (the bank and ditch alone at Avebury would have taken 250 people over 20 years to complete). By 1500 BC stone circle construction seemed to ease, probably to changing weather patterns driving builders to a new environment, social structure and belief system, adapting from ‘hunters’ to ‘farmers’.
According to information on Wikipedia, “archaeological evidence, coupled with information from astronomy, geology and mathematics suggests that the purpose of stone circles was connected with prehistoric peoples’ belief, and their construction can be used to infer about ancient engineering, social organisation and religion. Their precise function however, is unknown, and will probably always remain open to debate.”
One thing remains certain; you can’t help but marvel at these ancient structures, contemplate those who built them and the timeless secrets they hold. A word of caution: visiting ancient sites can be addictive! Since my first visit to Stonehenge in 2004 I have become a frequent explorer, seeking new places of ancient wisdom around Britain.
Pointers to enjoying standing stones
- Ancient sites are scared so treat them with respect.
- Go with an open heart and an open mind – pause at the entrance of a site and ask for permission and blessing of the guardian to enter.
- Try to spend some time in silent communication with the stones – they may reveal their wisdom to you!
- Don’t change the site. Any offering can be blessing but do not leave anything that is not biodegradable.
Article first appeared in Prediction Magazine , September 07 Issue, page 31
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