Stone Circles

Circles of large upright stones—commonly known as menhirs, which is Celtic for “long stones”—erected in prehistoric times, have been found in various parts of the world. The most famous stone circle is Stonehenge, located in England; other notable stone circles include the Ring of Brodgar, which is located in Scotland and has a diameter of 342 feet (104.2m); Swinside Circle in northern England, which, according to legend, is frequently visited by the devil; and the Callanish Circle of the Outer Hebrides, which, according to legend, is visited by a good spirit every summer solstice.

Archaeologists estimate that most stone circles were erected sometime between 3500 and 1000 B.C. However, scholars do not always know how the stones were erected at a particular site. For example, no one knows how the builders of Stonehenge were able to move the stones, some of which weighed more than 50 tons (45.4 metric tons), to the site since they came from as far away as 130 miles (208km) and there were no wheeled vehicles in England at the time.

In addition, people disagree on why these sites were created. Many scholars think that their primary purpose was to serve as ancient celestial observatories since many of the stones seem to line up with various celestial bodies at certain times in the year, such as the summer solstice or the autumnal equinox. Others say that even if this is true, the sites’ primary purpose was religious; the stones were arranged in accordance with the heavens to honor gods, and ancient worship rituals were held within the circles. Still others have suggested that instead of honoring gods, the stones were meant to honor extraterrestrials who once visited Earth. A few such people have even speculated that extraterrestrial colonists on Earth made the circles, orienting them to the heavens in an effort to point the way to their home planet.

Some people, however, believe that although the stones might be arranged with an eye toward the heavens, they were meant to mark places of significance on Earth. Specifically, such people say that at stone-circle sites, the Earth is “charged” with powerful energy forces, which the ancients used for magical purposes. Indeed, certain individuals have reported experiencing unusual feelings, such as increased energy and/or creativity, while visiting stone-circle sites, and some stone circles have been credited with the ability to improve people’s health and increase their fertility. As a further indication of the stone circles’ magical nature, some believers say, visitors to such sites occasionally hear mysterious sounds and voices. Indeed, legends related to these sites tell of the stones sometimes whispering to one another or moving on their own.

SEE ALSO:

  • Earth Energy
  • Ancient Monuments

SOURCE:

The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning

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