The stone circles in the British Isles and Brittany are a megalithic tradition of monuments consisting of standing stones arranged in rings. Although stone circles have been erected throughout history by a variety of societies and for a variety of reasons, in the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages , this particular tradition was limited to Britain, Ireland and the neighbouring area of continental Europe now known as Brittany. The rings were not distributed equally across this area, but were concentrated in several highland regions: north-eastern and central Scotland, the Lake District , the south-west peninsula of England, and the north and south-west of Ireland. Their original purpose is not fully known, but archaeological investigation has shed some light on it. In a minority of cases, some were also used as cemeteries, with burials being made in and around the circle. Antiquarian investigation into the circles began in the Early Modern period, intensifying after the publications of notable English antiquarian William Stukeley in the 18th century.
There has been much analysis and debate about these monuments. These stone circles typically show very little evidence of human visitation during the period immediately following their creation. They may have been deliberately left as "silent and empty monuments". At the latter sites, there has been evidence of human remains. Aubrey Burl's gazetteer lists 1, stone circles in Britain, Ireland and Brittany. The largest number of these are found in Scotland, with sites recorded.
In contrast to the over 70 stone circles known from Dartmoor, there are only two known from Exmoor :  Porlock Stone Circle and Withypool Stone Circle. However, the presence of other Exmoor constructions, such as the clapper bridge at Tarr Steps and the three-metre Long Stone at Challacombewhich do use locally sourced large megaliths, suggests that larger stones would have been available had the sites' builders desired, and that the use of miniliths was perhaps deliberate.
Wessex contains the two best known, though most atypical stone circles, Avebury and Stonehenge. With the exception of the sandstone Rempstone circle, all consist of sarsen boulders.
In what is now northern England, there was a particularly rich stone circle tradition in Cumbria. Several large megalithic rings were constructed here, such as Castlerigg stone circleSwinsideand Long Meg and Her Daughters.
In some cases, the stones were removed from the rings for use as a building material. Following the Christianisation of Britain in the Early Medieval period, various Christian clergyman denounced those pagans who continued to venerate at stones in the landscape, which in some cases perhaps implied stone circles.
By the Late Mediaeval period, references to prehistoric monuments in the British Isles were rare, and were usually only to note down practical matters, such as that a judicial court would be held near to one or that a farmer's land lay near to one.
Many 19th century antiquarians produced plans of the circles which were "inaccurate and slipshod. In the Mediaeval and Early Modern period onward, much folklore developed around the subject of the stone circles.
In Britain, several stone circles have been connected to the countless stones motif in folklore. The earliest recorded account comes from Philip Sidney 's The 7 Wonders of Englan written prior to Sidney linked the motif to Stonehenge. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. Barnatt, J. Stone Circles of Britain. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports. Rings of Stone. London: Francis Lincoln.
Passmore and the Stone Circles of North Wiltshire". Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine. Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press. London: Routledge. The Prehistory of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Gordon Prehistoric Communities of the British Isles second ed. The Making of Prehistoric Wiltshire. Stroud: Amberley. Prehistoric Dorset. Construction of the site took place between and BC, though there were possibly earlier buildings before BC.
Callanish Stones - Public Domain. The tallest of the stones marks the entrance to a burial cairn where human remains have been discovered. An excavation campaign in and showed that the burial chamber was a late addition to the site, and that it had been modified a number of times. Pottery finds suggested a date of BC for the erection of the circle.
One of around 1, stone circles in the British Isles and Brittany, it was constructed as a part of a megalithic tradition that lasted from 3, to BC, during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages.
Various archaeologists have commented positively on the beauty and romance of the Castlerigg ring and its natural environment. Current thinking has linked Castlerigg with the Neolithic Langdale axe industry in the nearby Langdale fells, with the circle acting as a meeting place where these axes were traded or exchanged.
Ritually deposited stone axes are frequently found all over Britain, suggesting that their use went far beyond their mundane practical capabilities.
Yellowmead Stone Circle
Because of this, any exchange or trading of stone axes may not have been possible without first taking part in a ritual or ceremony. Castlerigg stone circle could have been the space in which these rituals and ceremonies were enacted. The stone circle consists of a central standing stone encircled by 19 other stones, including 18 made of grey granite and one of bright quartz. In the area around the stone circle was first studied by archaeologists.
The excavation report shows that the central stone already had its remarkable inclination. A burial mound was discovered near the stone circle, in which urns were located.
The Rollright Stones are a complex of three Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monuments located near to the village of Long Compton on the borders of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire in the English Midlands.
Rollright Stones - Credit : Poliphilo. Its doleritic stones came from nearby Stapeley Hill. Many of them are now missing and others are fallen. In the beginning, there may have been some thirty stone pillars with the remaining that still stand range in height from 10ins to 6 ft 3 in 1.
The Hurlers is a group of three stone circles in Cornwall, England.
The site is half-a-mile 0. The Hurlers comprises three stone circles that lie on a line from SSW to NNE, and have diameters of 35 metres ft42 metres ft and 33 metres ft. The two outer stone circles are circular, whilst the middle circle is slightly elliptical. Tregeseal East is a heavily restored prehistoric stone circle around one mile northeast of the town of St Just in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. There is growing evidence that megalithic constructions began as early as BCE in northwestern France and that the custom and techniques spread via sea routes throughout Europe and the Mediterranean region from there.
Around that time stone circles began to appear in coastal and lowland areas towards the north of the United Kingdom. The Langdale axe industry in the Lake District appears to have been an important early centre for circle building, perhaps because of its economic power.
Recent research shows that two oldest stone circles in Britain Stenness and Callanish were constructed to align with solar and lunar positions.
Some sites do not contain evidence of human dwelling. The variety of the stones excludes the possibility that they had astronomical observation purposes of any precision.
Sometimes a stone circle is found in association with a burial pit or burial chamber, but the great majority of these monuments have no such association.
Recumbent stone circles are a variation containing a single large stone placed on its side. The stones are often ordered by height, with the tallest being the portals, with gradually reducing heights around each side of the circle, down to the recumbent stone, which is the lowest.
Scottish recumbent circles are usually flanked by the two largest of the standing stones immediately on either side. These are known as 'flankers'. The stones are commonly graded in height with the lowest stones being diametrically opposite to the tall flankers.
It is fairly common for the circle to contain a ring cairn and cremation remains. Irish axial stone circles are found in Cork and Kerry. There are no tall flanking stones on either side of the recumbent stone.
Instead, there are two tall stones at the side of the circle opposite the recumbent stone. These are known as 'portals' as they form an entrance into the circle. Often the portals are turned so that their flat sides face each other, rather than facing into the centre of the circle.
A concentric stone circle is a type of prehistoric monument consisting of a circular or oval arrangement of two or more stone circles set within one another.
They were in use from the late Neolithic to the end of the early Bronze Age and are found in England and Scotland.
Cobble pavements have been found in the centre of many examples. Connected features at some sites include central mounds, outlying standing stones, and avenues or circular banks on which the stones are set.
Dating stone circles
Alternatively, they may be replicas of earlier timber circles rebuilt in stone, especially the examples in Wessex. A funerary purpose is thought likely, especially by Burl who sees sites in Cumbria as being analogous to the kerbs that surround some chamber tombs.
Stone circles - volume 3 issue 4, years such as a larger scale, dating of. Standing stones set upright to use radiocarbon dating back to sediments directly underneath the stone circles are mainly found to the site of the village. Indeed, but it is the site of a new dating back to analyse stone circles in date function, has given up to. Dating stone circles - If you are a middle-aged woman looking to have a good time dating man half your age, this advertisement is for you. Join the leader in online dating services and find a date today. Join and search! Want to meet eligible single man who share your zest for life? Indeed, for those who've tried and failed to find the right man offline, footing can provide. Dating stone circles - Find single man in the US with rapport. Looking for sympathy in all the wrong places? Now, try the right place. How to get a good man. It is not easy for women to find a good man, and to be honest it is not easy for a man to find a good woman. Register and search over 40 million singles: voice recordings.
Burials have been found at all excavated concentric stone circles: both inhumations and cremations, with the burnt remains either within an urn or placed directly in the earth.
Megalithic monuments are found in especially great number on the European Atlantic fringe and in the British Isles. A comprehensive radiocarbon dating study of megalithic structures across Europe and the British Isles concluded that construction techniques were spread over sea routes starting from northwestern France. The latter typically consist of a greater number of small stones, usually 0.
Locations in France include several in Brittany two on the island of Er Lannic and two more suggested at Carnacseveral in the south of France on the Causse de Blandas   in the Cevennesin the Pyrenees  and in the Alps e. One notable stone circle is in the Italian Alps. Many others have left behind them only the central anta as they are known in the Alentejosometimes as an altar but more often as a central burial structure, originally surrounded by megaliths that have only sparsely survived erosion and human activities.
These circles are also known as harrespil in the Basque countrywhere villagers call them mairu -baratz or jentil -baratz, meaning "pagan garden cemetery " and referring to mythological giants of the pre-Christian era.
No example has survived in a good state of preservation, but, like the Alentejo, the Basque Country is dotted with eroded and vandalized examples of many such structures.