Stone Circles

Some people call them stone rings, for most aren't truly circular. The majority of Europe's stone circles are in Britain and Ireland, the count here being around 1000.

orkney ring

A segment of Ring of Brodgar, Orkney

On the Continent megaliths (= big stones) were more likely to be arranged in alignments , for example at Carnac, Brittany.

It's tempting to look for a connection between the British Isles' partiality for roundhouses rather than longhouses as on the Continent, and this other preference for round rather than linear monuments.

They began to be constructed about 4000-3500BC, roughly the period when nomadic hunter-gathering began to merge into farming. It seems unlikely that any new circles or rings were made in Britain after about 1500BC.

The two Eskdalemuir rings are not so unusual in being so close together. This happened elsewhere, notably at Machrie Moor, Arran and of course in the Stonehenge area.

aviemore ring

A stone ring in Aviemore

Why were stone circles built? What function(s) did they serve? Again there is no firm knowledge but the following suggestions have been made:-