Suddenly, I want to go to Portugal.
I had not really looked at the area before but stumbling across Cromeleque dos Almendres, I am really taken by these. Here are some photos and the entry from WIKIPEDIA.
The Almendres Cromlech megalithic complex, located 38°33?28?N 08°3?41?WCoordinates: 38°33?28?N 08°3?41?W near Guadalupe, Évora, Portugal, is one of the earliest public monuments. It is the largest existing group of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula, and one of the largest in Europe.
This megalithic monument originally consisted of more than one hundred monoliths, some of which have been taken away for other uses. A recent dig showed that the complex had undergone several building phases during the neolithic period (5000 – 4000 BC).
It was found rather late, in 1964.
92 menhirs of different sizes currently form two grounds that were built oriented to different equinox directions. Several of them were put back in place.
The axis of the ovals is oriented along an east-west direction. The complex’s position latitude is about the same as the maximum moon elongation (38.55 degrees for 1500 BC); the other latitude at which that happens is that of Stonehenge, 51.18 degrees for 2000 BC..
About a dozen monoliths present some form of carved drawings, four of which exhibit only small circular holes. Monolith number 8, with a cut flat top at about breast level and showing several dimples, might have served for finer astronomical observation, specially spring equinox observation, by putting small stones on them. These observations might be made from stone 39, on the eastern focal point of the elliptic layout.
It is believed that the monument had religious purposes and functioned as a primitive astronomical observatory.
READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT GLASGOW LOCAL NEWS
Husband and wife team Duncan and Linda Lunan have formed a new organisation, Friends of the Sighthill Stone Circle, to promote and further plans to renovate and complete the astronomically aligned stone circle in Sighthill Park, Glasgow, the first of its kind in the UK for 3000 years.
The Sighthill circle was designed by Duncan and erected by the Glasgow Parks Department Astronomy Project, as part of the Jobs Creation/Special Temporary Employment Programme, 1978-79. It was dedicated to four prominent experts in the field of ancient astronomy, all with close connections to Glasgow. Following the change of government in 1979 the circle was never completed, and it has never become the local and visitor attraction which was intended. Four unused stones lie on the site to this day, the stones are partly buried following incorrect landscaping in 1982, and there is nothing to tell visitors who put them up, to whom they’re dedicated or how the circle works.
Following a public lecture and mass visit to the circle at the summer solstice in 2010, the existing paths around the circle have been cleared by Land and Environment Services. The aim now is to erect the final stones, install a plaque to explain the circle’s origins and function, restore the stones to full height and provide better footpath access. This will highlight its links to the past and the future of the area and to other astronomical attractions in the city and beyond.
Duncan and Linda invite those interested in progressing this work to contact them at: Friends of the Sighthill Stone Circle, www.sighthillstonecircle.net or tel: 0141 221 7658 or to attend the next meeting in the Ogilvie Centre, 25 Rose Street, Glasgow G3 6RE on Wednesday 22 June 2011 at 7.30pm. This will be followed by a visit to the Stone Circle in time to see the sunset there and get an understanding of how the circle works.
READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE AT GLASGOW LOCAL NEWS
“Visiting my first-ever Neolithic circle of standing stones—Beltany Circle—is inextricably linked in my memory with another far more terrifying first: driving alone on the left-hand side of the road.
As I planned my trip to Ireland, I realized that my pilgrimage to prehistoric stones and countryside spas and B&Bs required a rental car. However, I was traveling alone on this trip—there would be no brave companion to volunteer to take the dreaded right-sided wheel or navigate clockwise roundabouts.
So, I reserved an automatic car—no shifting gears with my left hand, thanks very much!—and then spent weeks anticipating the horror of making right turns in heavy traffic. My one consolation: My first week in Ireland was at a weeklong Patchwork Farms creative writing and yoga retreat in Downings, Donegal, which I reached from Dublin via bus and taxi.
Driving to Beltany
While relaxing with other writers, I prepped myself mentally: I sat directly behind drivers and pretended I was piloting the bus through crowded streets and across one-vehicle-at-a-time bridges. Except for the ultra-narrow byways requiring that you back up if you meet oncoming traffic, country roads felt far more relaxing.
And so, after swallowing a capsule of herbal anti-anxiety valerian, I loaded my suitcase into the “boot” of my little Ford, buckled my seatbelt, and pleaded with the ancient Irish warrior goddesses to give me courage and a clear shot on the road.
Luckily, I had minimal town driving before I hit the highway, then I was off on smaller country roads toward the village of Raphoe, where I followed signs pointing me to Beltany Circle. The whole trip lasted less than an hour, but it felt like a lifetime.
My guidebook, The Traveller’s Guide to Sacred Ireland by Cary Meehan, mentioned that this circle sat amongst farmland, but until I got there, it was hard to imagine. Even with the signs, I was sure I was trespassing down someone’s private farm road—and technically I was—but in Ireland, megaliths are public property, even if they’re in your back yard.
Here, I parked close to a large farm, peeled my fingers off the steering wheel, took a deep breath of the damp country air, and walked up the hill through an eerie, dark passageway of trees.
At one spot, there was a break in the trees, and I peeked through to see it: Beltany, my first stone circle! Its name refers to Beltaine, the pagan celebration of the first day of summer, celebrated on May Day (May 1). Beltany Circle’s largest slab is aligned with the sunrise on Beltaine.” …
Read the rest of the story here …
A CONTROVERSIAL area of land in Swindon that is earmarked for a housing development could instead become Swindon’s own “mini-Avebury”, according to campaigners.
The claim comes after ancient stones, which could be part of Swindon’s Neolithic history, were unearthed at Coate.
The two sarsen stones were uncovered by the Highways Agency last week opposite Day House Farm, near the protected Coate Stone Circle.
The find has excited speculation that more historic stones may still lie undiscovered in the area.
Campaigners against a planning application by the Swindon Gateway Partnership to build 1,800 homes and a university campus on land near Coate Water say the development could rob the town of huge potential historic and tourist value.
Jean Saunders, from the Jefferies Land Conservation Trust, said: “There is a real chance here to create almost a mini-Avebury.
“This particular area is steeped in pre-history. We know of a Bronze Age settlement just south of Coate Water, two round barrows opposite Richard Jefferies’ old house at Coate, two stone circles on Day House Farm and lines of stones linking these together with others.
“It would be criminal to surround these ancient relics of the past with modern buildings. Who knows how many more of these old stones lie undiscovered? Can Swindon afford to lose more of its history?
“This raises a lot of unanswered questions. We are very aware of the importance of this whole area and it is not just Bronze Age, but medieval and Roman.
“This is something I wanted to bring up at the inquiry but because the developers didn’t actually put forward an archaeologist there wasn’t the chance. The problem was that English Heritage and the county archaeologist dropped their objections at the eleventh hour, so it no longer became an issue for the planning inspector.”
Felicity Cobb, from the Save Coate campaign, said: “It would be nice if the planning inspector took this into account but I’m not holding my breath.”
Wiltshire county archaeologist Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger said: “I haven’t been able to go and see the stones yet but they do occur naturally in the area. There is a stone circle nearby which is a scheduled monument.”
The inquiry into SGP’s planning appeal officially closes on March 27, after which the planning inspector will make his recommendations to secretary of state Hazel Blears.
by James Wallin
In 1861 at Oshoro, southwestern Hokkaido, a party of herring fishermen, migrants from Honshu, were laying the foundation for a fishing port when they saw taking shape beneath their shovels a mysterious spectacle — a broad circular arrangement of large rocks, strikingly symmetrical, evidently man-made. What could it be? An Ainu fortress?
They would have been astonished to learn, as in fact they never did, that the Oshoro Stone Circle is a relic from a time before even war — let alone fortresses — likely existed in Japan.
Oshoro today is part of the city of Otaru, on its western fringe, 20 km from the city center and 60 km west of Sapporo.
The Late Jomon period (circa 2400-1000 B.C.) was an age of northward migration. The north was warming, and severe rainfall was ravaging the established Jomon sites, primarily in the vicinity of today’s Tokyo and Nagoya.
Perhaps resettlement stimulated thought, for it coincided with a novel Jomon institution — the cemetery.
“By devoting a special area to burials,” writes J. Edward Kidder in “The Cambridge History of Japan,” “Late Jomon people were isolating the dead, allowing the gap to be bridged by mediums who eventually drew the rational world of the living further away from the spirit world of the dead.”
The Oshoro Stone Circle was probably a cemetery.
It was other things as well, but primarily that, says Naoaki Ishikawa, chief curator of the Otaru Museum, where many of the finds from around this stone circle can be viewed.
It is one of about 30 Late Jomon stone circles scattered through northern Japan. In terms of size it ranks about midway between the smallest enclosures and the largest one at Oyu, Akita Prefecture, bounded by thousands of stones.
No bones have been found to make an airtight case of the cemetery theory, but relatively few Jomon bones have been found anywhere, the acid in the soil claiming them long before the archaeologist’s trowel can.
The first archaeologists at work in Japan were American and European. Their heyday was the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Japanese curiosity regarding the remote past was satisfied by nationalistic myths accepted — on pain of harsh punishment as the Japanese government in the 1930s and ’40s claimed control over thought — as fact.
World War II ended, and, as though to make up for lost time, Japan plunged into archaeology. It became a passion, and remains one to this day. Historian William Wayne Farris, in “Sacred Texts and Buried Treasure,” counts (as of 1998) some 4,000 archaeologists active in Japan — 20 times the number in Great Britain.
A prewar pioneer in Japan was the Scottish archaeologist Neil Munro, whose “Prehistoric Japan” was published in 1908. He thought at first the stone circles might be astronomical observatories akin to Stonehenge in southwest England.
Not so, asserts Otaru Museum’s Ishikawa.
The question remains open, but calendrical significance has yet to be established. “In my opinion,” says Ishikawa, “the only thing Stonehenge and the Oshoro Stone Circle have in common is that they’re both made of stone.”
What you see at Oshoro today — it’s a wilder-looking spot than its physical proximity to the city would suggest, set among farmers’ fields and hills overlooking the sea — is an oval rather than a circular expanse, 33 meters north to south, 22 meters east to west, bordered by granite rocks, the tallest of which are about hip-high.
Some are rectangular, others rounded so smoothly you might think they had been sculpted, but no: “The rounded ones are called columnar joint stones,” explains Ishikawa — “very common in the area, though some geologists say many of the stones were quarried at Cape Shiripa, 8 km away.”
The site is a shadow of what it was at its height circa 1500 B.C. — a victim, first of 19th-century Japanese pioneers reclaiming Hokkaido from the wilderness and eager to appropriate handy rocks as construction material; second, of well-intentioned but misguided “cleanup campaigns,” the first in 1908 preparatory to a royal visit by the Crown Prince, the future Emperor Taisho.
Why regard it as a cemetery? Partly, says Ishikawa, because of the large number of unidentifiable, and probably ritual, objects unearthed in the vicinity; partly because of the many tools found unbroken, suggesting grave goods; partly also because “graves are among the few things that would have justified the degree of effort involved. Constructing a stone circle is a major undertaking. You have to flatten the land, quarry the stones, transport them, lay them out. . . . Only something of the highest importance could have taken people away from their daily hunting and gathering.”
Very likely also, he says, it was a market, a trading center for the exchange of tools, local foods, regional products, lacquer — and information, gossip. What would people have said to each other? In what language? Not Japanese, writes archaeologist Richard Pearson in the International Jomon Culture Conference Newsletter. Proto-Japanese, he says, only begins with the succeeding Yayoi culture.
Ishikawa raises another possibility for the Oshoro Stone Circle — that it could have been a trash dump, which would explain the roughly 400,000 tool and pottery fragments so far unearthed there.
“Things may have been brought on purpose to such a site for ritual disposal,” he says.
“To the Jomon, each object, animate and inanimate, housed a spirit. Throwing things away would have been done ceremonially.”
“If I was to visit all the sites there are, you’d probably still be watching this film in a year’s time. This end of the country is probably the richest in its wealth of prehistoric sites. Within just a few minutes of where I am now, besides any number of standing stones and cairns, there’s the Merry Maidens stone circle, Tregeseal stone circle, the Nine Maidens stone circle, there’s Boskawen-Un stone circle, there’s Pendeen Vau fogou, Carn Euny fogou, Chun Quoit, Lanyon Quoit – there’s loads of ‘em!
We’ll get glimpses of as many as we can – but as well as some of the better known sites, we’re going to travel to places that you may have never ha the opportunity to visit and quite a few you never knew existed.”
This magnificent stone circle is the first that we ever shot serious footage at for ‘Standing with Stones’. Sadly though, Scorhill does not appear in the final film. Why? Well, Rupert and I first shot ‘serious footage’ for Standing with Stones way back in 2001 – and then we were not filming for the DVD as we know it, we were filming for the original 10 minute pilot film that we conceived as a try-out for a broadcast series. You can see the pilot in the ‘Extras’ section on the DVD. Since filming there though, we discovered that the owner of the part of Dartmoor on which Scorhill stone circle stands is particularly touchy about people visiting the site, let alone photographing or filming it. As the land owner lives in estate right next to the walk up to the site, we thought it best not to push our luck when it came to making the DVD and therefore removed it from our plans.
However, if you click on the image below you will be treated to the opening sequence from the 2001 pilot – all shot at Scorhill stone circle.
“A pagan couple who moved into a suburban estate in Dorset brought with them their own prehistoric stone circle.
John and Suky Burton imported the 13 prehistoric stones from their former Weymouth mansion when they downsized to a detached house in Dorchester last weekend.
The stone circle megalith was originally erected in the grounds of Abbotts Court by Burberry fashion house founder Thomas Burberry in the early 1900s.
The Burtons bought the mansion in the 1980s and could not live without the monoliths when they downsized to Dorchester.
Neighbours watched in bewilderment as druid John and hereditary witch Suky used a crane and a huge truck to transport the 6ft stones to their new abode. The couple – both antique dealers – aligned the stones at special points along a powerful ley line around the garden to encircle themselves with positive energy. Suky, 60, then invited 20 witches from her coven to dedicate the stone circle during a special night-time ritual.
Mrs Burton – whose mother and grandmother were witches – said: “We had a blessing of the stones and we brought the energy back. ”You could feel the energy circling the stones. We feel they are a place between worlds. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you are near these stones – but it is something extremely powerful. ”You can feel the energy pulsing around you, moving inside you, you feel at one with nature and get a real high.”
The full history of the 13 ancient stones is unknown, however, they are reputed to have originated from Portland, Dorset.
They were purchased early last century by fashion giant Thomas Burberry – who placed them outside his Abbotts Court mansion, in Weymouth.
The couple – who teach magic and witchcraft – uncovered the stone circle shortly after they bought Abbotts Court in 1980 and planned to leave it as an historic landmark when they downsized. But the property developer who bought the mansion threatened to dump the monoliths if they were left behind.
The couple employed a specialist removal firm – who used a crane and a fleet of trucks – to transport the 13 large stone to their new home. Each one was placed along a powerful ley line which runs from runs from Maiden Castle through to Muambury rings.
Mrs Burton, who has five children and 12 grandchildren, said: “It was a really big job bringing the stones with us. We had to employ about a dozen rather burly men and a crane to transport it all – but it was well worth it. ”Although I think a few of the neighbours were a little surprised, on the whole I think it’s been really well received. ”We are so happy to have finally have it all sorted. We were very upset at the thought of these stones just being dumped – but couldn’t think of how we could get them with us. ”They’ve made such a difference to our lives we were delighted when we realised we would be able to take the stones with us.”"
“It looks like a target to me!” So says Rupert of the Yellowmead quadruple stone circle in the South West of Dartmoor. Not that he or I seriously suggest in the film that it was for Neolithic hunting practise (“Nearest spear to the middle wins!”), but this is one of the first times in the film that we hint that playing and having fun with ideas around Neolithic and Bronze Age sites can sometimes unlock thoughts that are well worth pursuing.
In this case, Rupert’s seemingly off the cuff remark sparked off a train of thinking that informed a number of Rupert’s observations and conjectures that appear throughout the film. The lesson though, is not that we can derive any definitive answers from allowing the mind a bit more freedom when trying to interpret these sites, but that sometimes the evidence can yield valid alternative explanations when queried from “outside the box”.
We would have to wait until we got to Stanton Drew before our convictions became strong enough to follow through with the fruits of this line of thought, and I’m afraid Yellowmead remained mute in the face of Rupert’s half joke.
The astonishing thing about Yellowmead (apart from its quadruple concentricity, that is!) is that it is still there after all these years. Or that any monument remains standing on Dartmoor. Whatever its popularity with the folk who assembled it, it is certainly very popular with the animals of Dartmoor, especially the Dartmoor Ponies who seem to derive enormous pleasure from backing up to the stones and using them as a good scratching post. You can see the stones rocking in their sockets as they do so - quite alarming.