stone circle

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A setting of upright stone pillars forming a ring whose exact ground plan many vary between being almost exactly circular through to elliptical or egg‐shaped. Upon excavation such circles are often found to be the final phase in the evolution of a monument that started as a timber circle. Stone circles are widely scatted through the western parts of the British Isles, northern France, and parts of Scandinavia. They broadly date to the later Neolithic and early Bronze Age, but Aubrey Burl has identified three main phases to their construction. Early‐period circles (3370–2670 bc) are moderately large, fairly regular in plan, have closely set stones, and a conspicuous entrance. Middle‐period circles (2670–1975 bc) are generally very large, up to 100 m across, occur in a range of sometimes elegant shapes, have widely spaced stones, and occur in groups. Late‐period circles (1975–1200 bc) are generally small rings of varying shapes and sizes although ovals predominate. Regional types such as recumbent circles and four‐posters proliferate.

Subjects: Archaeology.

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