Britain’s Other Great Stone Circles

With its iconic triptychs bringing thousands of tourists every year, Stonehenge is undoubtedly the most famous structure of its kind in the world. However, it is by no means unique. Indeed, the British Isles are scattered with numerous other examples of the architectural prowess of the ancient peoples who once lived here.

So, for those who prefer to take the road less travelled (or, in this case, the megalith less visited) here’s a look at 3 of the UK’s other stone circles which are well worth seeing;

Swinside

Consisting of 55 stones and measuring 27 metres across, this beautifully unspoilt stone circle still remains complete today. Swinside, or Sunkenkirk as it’s also known, can be found in Cumbria, in North West of England, a region which is home to a number of other notable Neolithic circles, including Castlerigg and Long Meg.

Whilst archaeologists generally concur that the stones where put in place at some point in the early Bronze Age for obscure religious purposes, local legend has it that the slabs are actually the result of an attempt to build a church- an attempted which the devil continually thwarted, leaving just a collection of abandoned foundation stones. According to another legend it’s impossible to count all of the stones, a myth that, having read this post, you shouldn’t find too hard to disprove.

The circle actually lies on private ground, however, it can be viewed from a nearby public footpath located about half an hours walk from the nearest car park. Alternatively, you can get a birds eye view of the stones from Black Combe’s Raven Crag, which overlooks the field.

IMG_0055 Swinside Stone Circle

Avebury

Located in Wiltshire, Avebury ring is actually the largest stone circle in the world. Its layout is unique, featuring a large outer ring with two smaller circles inside it. Almost as impressive as the stones themselves is the henge (a man made ditch, banked around the sides) in which they stand.

Unfortunately, during the 17th century many of the stones where removed or broken for use as building materials by property speculators. However, the circles have since been restored and today they still make for an amazing spectacle. Celebrated writer John Aubery commented of Avebury that: “it does as much exceed in greatness the so renowned Stonehenge as a Cathedral doeth a parish church.”

Avebury

Machrie Moor

Nestled on the west coast of the Scottish Isle of Arran, this moor is positively littered with the artifacts of Neolithic society, and houses a wide range of stones in various configurations. Some appear to stand as solitary monuments, whilst others form clear circles, one of which features three huge red stones, towering up at an impressive 18 feet high.

There’s also a double circle of stones, featuring an outer and inner ring in a similar arrangement to Avebury. One stone in the outer circle has an eerily well-defined hole in it and, according, to legend a renowned warrior giant called Fingal used it as a means to tether his dog, Bran, to the stone.

Though the structures at Machrie Moor aren’t as clearly organised as the impressive Avebury ring, something about their higgledy-piggledy, ramshackle scattering gives them an unsettling and mysterious air.

Machrie  Moor Stone Circle II
 

Author Bio: William Boston edits the travel section of UK Directory and enjoys writing about his favourite destinations both abroad and here at home. When not out exploring he lives in East London.

Comments

  1. Sheri Burgess says

    Is there also the Callanish Standing stones on the Isle of Lewis ? or Skye..i know they are up in Scotland ..

  2. Stacey Burnaroos says

    Michelle, How do you read the books by Diana Gabaldon, They are my absolute favorites It is a series of 6 or 7 books, Starting with the book Outlander. It is a time travel series set in England starting in 1946 ish, fabulous!!! It’s a must read for you especially you will love it!!! Just us sneak peek it starts out with the main character traveling through standing stones in Scotland and It goes on from there great adventure filled with Sex, lust, history, you’ll love it!! Will chit chat later. Ta Ta!!

  3. says

    This is my kind of England! Not that I’d object to spending time in London but being out in the countryside, doing a ritual at a stone circle is just wonderful. I was at Avebury in 2011. Have visited a number of stone circles out in Cornwall. Just lovely. tarotbyprudence@aol.com

  4. says

    Sheri, you are right the Callenish standing stones are on the Isle of Lewis and are one of the best I think because of the unrestricted nature of the area. My cousin lives round the corner (he’s a Harris Tweed maker) so I love visitng this area. Its very special anyway but doubly so for me with the family being there! ;-)

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