Rare Stonehenge-like monument in Scotland has single ‘recumbent’ stone

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A Neolithic circle of standing stones was not too long ago “found” by archaeologists in Scotland. But it surely seems, native farmers have recognized about it for generations.

The traditional monumental construction — considered between three,500 and four,500 years outdated — consists of 10 stones, every about three ft (1 meter) excessive, standing in a circle about 25 ft (7.7 m) throughout.

The stone circle is positioned in a distant patch of farmland close to the village of Alford, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Aberdeen. [See Photos of the Ancient Stone Circle in Scotland]

The monument is an instance of a “recumbent” stone circle, a Neolithic model distinctive to the northeast of Scotland and the south-west of Eire. This model has a big “recumbent” stone mendacity on its aspect between two upright stones, or “flankers,” within the southwest of the circle.

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A member of the Aberdeenshire Council archaeological group, Neil Ackerman, informed Dwell Science that the stone circle was “found” by archaeologists solely in November of final 12 months, after the land the place it was positioned was offered.

One of many former land homeowners, Fiona Bain, talked about to council archaeologists that she had tried to seek out out extra in regards to the mysterious stone circle, however she could not discover any information of it, Ackerman stated.

Consequently, archaeologists from Aberdeenshire Council and the Historic Surroundings Scotland company visited the positioning and surveyed the stone circle, he stated.

“It actually does not get significantly better than this,” Ackerman stated. “A variety of the recumbent stone circles that folks have recognized about for a really very long time solely have two or three stones left — so to have one that’s full is sort of uncommon.”

Native data

A number of native folks had been conversant in the stone circle close to Alford, partly, as a result of they walked their canines at a close-by observe.

One member of a neighborhood farming household, now in her 80s, remembered seeing the stone circle at a while within the 1930s, Ackerman stated. However the circle was in farmland, removed from the principle roads within the space, and had remained unknown to archaeologists till now, he stated.

Earlier than the newest discovery, the final full stone circle was recorded within the space about 50 years in the past.

Another historical recumbent stone circles within the space had been broken when their stones had been eliminated for different functions; some others had been utterly destroyed, and solely the settings of the traditional stones can now be seen, he stated.

Ackerman stated the stone circle close to Alford could also be one of many final full stone circles that shall be discovered within the northeast of Scotland.

“There are a couple of bits of Aberdeenshire and the northeast of Scotland generally that are not as well-surveyed as different areas — and this is likely one of the areas that had much less work accomplished on it up to now,” he stated.

Now that archaeologists have professionally surveyed the stone circle, it will likely be included in future analysis into Neolithic stone monuments within the area, he stated.

Recumbent stone circles

Neolithic stone circles with a big “recumbent” stone are discovered solely within the northeast of Scotland and the southwest of Eire , though 1000’s of Neolithic circles with out recumbent stones are present in different elements of Britain and Europe.

The distribution of recumbent stone circles in Scotland has additionally been linked to the manufacture of intricately carved stone balls — one other uncommon sort of Neolithic art work.

The stone circles, Ackerman stated, had been typically constructed on prime of even earlier cairns of rocks and had been used at later dates in prehistory for the burial of cremated human stays.

“The monument you see because the completed recumbent stone circle is the final stage, because it had been, in a reasonably lengthy lifetime of monument use, which is type of regular for prehistory — folks like constructing stuff on essential locations,” he stated. [In Photos: A Walk Through Stonehenge]

Most recumbent stone circles had been bigger than 36 ft (11 m) throughout, making the circle close to Alford a comparatively small instance of its sort. It is usually one of many westernmost recumbent stone circles but discovered, he stated.

The stone circle was positioned on excessive floor with good views of the encompassing space, which can clarify why it was constructed there, he stated.

Like many others in Scotland’s northeast, the stone circle close to Alford is oriented with its giant recumbent stone within the southwest of the circle. Some researchers suppose this orientation displays the situation of the midwinter sundown, which might have been an essential date for Neolithic farming peoples.

However Ackerman stated there was nonetheless an excessive amount of debate amongst archaeologists about why the stone circles are oriented as they’re. “In case you wait lengthy sufficient, it is going to line up with one thing,” he stated.

Unique article on Dwell Science.

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