Photo by Simon Hattinga Verschure
Stone circles and monolith sites have taken on a fever in the last 7 years, thanks to a little show called Outlander. Many historical sites have taken an actual beating due to the very high attendance this series and other series, such as The Last Kingdom, have brought fans flocking to these ancient ruins.
I have made it my mission to see some circles this next trip. I was thwarted by a funeral on the Isle of Skye that had half the island involved and no way to get around it. It’s very rare for a native islander to live on the island and when one passes, the whole island gets involved. Which is really a beautiful thing, but when one gets half their tour cut off for the day and not time in the schedule to stay an extra day, you have to bump that to the next trip.
If you are lucky enough to be in the UK and Ireland and COVID-19 restrictions ease, heading to the ancient sites will be a great place to stay distanced, yet close to history. For the rest of us, start saving up.
Stone circles are found across the UK Isles, Ireland, and norther Europe. They were constructed between the years including the late Neolithic through Bronze Ages (3000 BCE). It’s not just the Northern Hemisphere, there are even a variation in the South of Africa.
What was the purpose of a stone circle? Ceremony for ancient peoples, usually centered around the seasons. Many of the circles feature at a particular movement of the sun, much like monoliths and other structures. The larger circles were though to have ben erected in places where there had been a larger settlement as the stones required a huge undertaking with ancient technology to transport and erect.
Image by Paul Bates
Not all circles are full circles, come are spiral or concentric, others are recumbent and axial. A single large stone placed on its side is recumbent or lying down. These are usually intentional, and similar to a placement of a stone for a Viking burial site. Indeed some of the circles and variants are part of a tomb or chambered site. Some systems have evidence of a cobble pavement, as these were places of worship and expected to be used over time. Some may contain a ring cairn used as a burial marker.
NOTE: While some countries have land passage laws, it is very important that you check out the official sites for information on access. Some of these are on private property and a fee may be charged. Check for public right of way spaces.
Note: as with all boggy moor conditions, check with local conditions for safe parking areas. Cars will sink.
Avon: Stanton Drew Circles and Cove
Cornwall: Boscawen-un stone circle, Nine Maidens of Boskednan, Hurlers, Men an tol, Merry Maidens, Stannon Circle.
Cumbria: Blakerly Raise, Castlehowe Scar, Castlerigg Circle, Druid’s Circle, Giants Grave, Greycroft Circle, Long Meg and her Daughters, Sewborrans, Shap Circles, Sunkenkirk
Derbyshire: Arbor Low Henge, Bamford Moor Circle, Hordron Edge Circle, Nine Stone Close, Park Gate Circle, Smelting Hill, Big Moor, Eyam Moor, Gardom’s Edge, Gibbet Moor, Stanton Moor.
Devon: Brisworthy Circle, Fernworthy Circle and Row, Grey Wethers Circle (Double), Ringsmoor Row and Circle, Scorhill Circle -Dartmoor. Darmoor has several Neolithic sites.
Dorset: Winterbourne Abbas Circle
Durham: Barningham /How Tallon Circle
Norfolk: Holme-Next-theSea (Seahenge) Bronze Age Wooden Circle
Northumberland: Doddington Moor Circle, Duddo, Goatstones
Wiltshire: Avebury, Long Stones, The Sanctuary
STONEHENGE and surrounding area. Yes, the big stone circle has a bit of company.
Yorkshire North: Appletreewick, Commondale, Devil’s Arrows, Harwood Dale, and a great many other Neolithic sites.
Brittany: Carnac Stones, Le Grand Menhir Brisé
Ireland: Ballynoe, Athgreany, Uragh, Beltany, Drombeg
Aberdeenshire: East Aquhorthies, Loanhead of Daviot, Raich, Sheldon, Tomnaverie
Angus: Balgarthno, Balkemback
Dumfriesshire: Twelve Apostles
Fife: Balfarg, Lundin Links
Inverness-shire: Aviemore, Balnuaran of Clava, Center-North-East-South-West
Peeblesshire: Cloyhouse Burn, Harestanes, Stobo Mill
Perthshire: Abbots Deuglie, Abernethy Den, Ardblair, Bachilton, Balhomais, Balmuick, Bandirran (east and west circles), Carse Fam I, II, Clach na Croiche, Clach na Tiompan, Clachan an Diridh, Graighall, Craigiedun, Croftmoraig, Dalginross, Diarmid’s Grave, East Cult, Easthill, Faire na Paitig, Falls of Acharn, Faskally Cottages, Ferntower, Fortingall NE, S, SW, Fowlis Wester, Gleann Beag, Kerrowmore, Kinnell, Licher-Stanes, Machuim, Moneydie, Muirheadstone, Na Clachan Aoraidh, River Almond, Tigh na Ruaich, Tom na Chessaig, Upper Gaskan, Wester Tullybannocher, Woodside. Map
Ross and Cromarty: Archmore, Airidh nam Bidearan, Applecross, Ballan Trushal, Beinn Fuathabhal, Callanish, Carriblair, Clach an Trushal, Cnac Ceann a’ Gharraidh, Cnoc Gearraidh Nighaen Choinnich outliers, Glen Shader, Na Dromannan, Shader Riverside, Strath
Roxburghshire: Ninestane Rig
Bryn Cader Faner, Gorsedd Stone Circle, Druids Circle, Harold’s Stones, The Rocking Stones
Photo by Jasmin Gorsuch