Stone circles have always been a mystery to archaeologists. The fact that prehistoric man took such care, time and attention in building such monuments has lead them to believe that these structures are very important to this society - but sadly, don't have a clue why they were constructed!!
|Typical Stone Circle|
Many ideas from astronomical eclipse calculators, to meeting places for the lost souls of the dead have been suggested, all of which do not answered the most simplistic of sensible questions as - why not make it out of wood - which was easier to move and less physically taxing. For the Altanean/Cro-Magnons wantd theses objects to last a very, very long time.
Fortunately, the reasons for such constructions are, like most aspects of history, quite simple if you keep an open mind. For even to day, we still use similar objects in our countryside to help us get around.
|Modern Day Standing Stones|
So why have these 'navigation aids' and why not use maps instead?
We they probably had both (as we do today!) and these were used as a base to check not only direction but the season of the year. It may sound strange to talk about not knowing what date of month it is currently, but to our ancestors days and weeks were far less important that the seasons as this was a 'nautical nation' and the season would reflect the expected wind and daylight available for journeys. Especially if the Stone circle (as the one above) are placed by the sea, tracking marine routes to other islands and continents.
Consequently, additional (non-directional) stones would have been added to make the stone circle act like a seasonal sun dial, that could track the setting of the sun against the stone uprights. The problem we have, like the archaeologists of the future with our own version of these 'navigational aids' is when the writing/drawings are gone - the meaning disappears. An observation that supports this idea is that the stones of Stone Circles have their 'flattest' face is facing the centre.
Was this because these were painted or carved with a 'relief' of the area?
|Modern Bronze Relief Map - looks remarkably like a face of a stone upright|
So why can't we see the relief markings today?
Of course our modern bronze version would last the rages of time better than stone - but they did not use Bronze, they could have also used wood, but that would have rotted in just 25 years. But we do STILL have old stone markers around, to test how bad the deterioration would look.
|Milestone in prime condition - its meaning is clear|
|A Roman milestone after 2000 years of erosion|
|A Neolithic Standing Stone (Milestone) after 5000 years- all carvings and paint are gone|
The original Mesolithic Stone Circles of the Atlanteans/Cro-magnons - such as Stonehenge would have been built for this maritime society, and so should indicate the general direction of 'other' settlements in the vicinity. As we have fully described in 'The Stonehenge Enigma', the three main 'round barrows' at Stonehenge are surrounded by moats and with direction stones at the top. These are the Heel Stone, The Northern Station Stone and the Southern Station Stone, that point to 'Durrington Walls/Woodhenge, Avebury and Old Sarum respectively.
|Stonehenge showing the Three Moated direction finders|
Once the Direction was established, then the boats would follow the Mesolithic 'Long Barrow' pathway markers on the bank of raised water levels. Later in the late Neolithic, when the waters receded new pathways to the same settlements could be reached overland for the first time and 'Round Barrow' markers with standing stones were used instead.
Later in history (in the Bronze and Iron Age) after the initial builders had gone, leaving only myth and legend on how and why these monuments were build, these later generations added more stones to some stone circles or they completed 'copy circles' to the environment in an attempt to mimic the ancestors and pay homage to their greatness - We have seen this with 'Round Barrows' that attracted burials and cremations some 2500 years after they were first constructed, as they were unaware of there true meaning - this has sadly confused archaeologists on the dating of these sites.
Is there any proof of this idea?
|Old Sarum to Danbury, Round Barrow walk|
Alfred was probably correct, as we will see later, but although (like a Roman Road) these tracks quite sensibly will be straight (quickest route) water and rivers will cause them to 'go around' marshland, bog and water. And this concept of higher water levels in the prehistoric he never conceived.
Another researcher who came to the same conclusion was Peter Davidson, a retired engineer, who published a paper called 'Megalithic Aids to Navigation'. Peter spent 30 years tracing patterns of settlements, monuments and artefacts from prehistoric sites on both sides of the channel and Irish sea. He suggested that these markers steered ships into safe anchorages and 'dead-reckoning' from one stone circle to another. In fact you can find Stone Circles on the entire coastline from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, France, Spain and even the Mediterranean - clearly showing the prehistoric trade routes.
|Were these stones maps of the area, later to become milestones?|
So the solution was in fact quite simple, they are direction finders or 'navigational aids' for boats and ships, when the waters receded in the Neolithic they would have stood at the crossroads of several pathways and the pathways would be marked with both 'round barrow' and standing stone dependent on the environment. These roads were used at first in the Neolithic and then Bronze, Iron and even the Roman took them over, as Watkins will tell you they were as straight as the environment gets. If you still need further persuading then here is an article from CBA magazine showing archaeological proof - including the Standing/milestone/Stone that was replaced by a wooden post in the Bronze Age.
|Evolution of a road - Notice the post/stone hole in the centre.|
(by Robert John Langdon)