Wednesday Wow: Calanais At Dusk

Calanais At Dusk – HDR, originally uploaded by Stuart Herbert.

What an amazing atmosphere.

You can learn more about Calanais (also spelt Callanish) on Wikipedia.

The next time I go to the UK and France I’d rather like to do a tour of various stone circles, menhirs, dolmens – any megaliths really – of Britain and Brittany. I’ve never been to the Hebrides, but I loved Skye, so I’m sure I’d also just be thrilled by even more westerly isles.

It was a chap named Jaques Cambry who first described the megaliths as “Celtic stones” and thus built an indelible connection in the popular mind between menhirs and dolmens and Druids. In reality the stones long predate the Druids and the Celtic migration to the West of Europe.

I love what current science is learning indirectly about the peoples who built the megalithic structures:

Most archaeologists agree the Megaliths of Western Europe were spread by a homogenous culture that used the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic Seaboard to spread. British Archaeologist Sir Barrington Cunliffe has written extensively and mapped the extent of this culture. Recent genetic tests confirm that a small percentage of males in each town where a megalith is located bear an extremely rare marker on Y-Chromosome Haplogroup I, subclade M26. Some have posited this marker tracks the spread of the megalithic cultural elite, as its far-flung and otherwise random distribution is otherwise inexplicable. (Gatto, et. al., 2007)

How fascinating.

Categories: history, Science

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3 replies

  1. If you do, you must go to the Avebury Ring – it is huge, and has an amazing atmosphere, and no nasty fences around it.
    And there’s a great one in the Lake District, with nothing but some grazing sheep – I just posted my photos from there (although not as spectacular as the one on your post – here)

  2. Others have recommended Avebury to me, so it’s definitely on the list. Great photos of the Lake District ring – thanks.
    I’d hoped to be at Stonehenge for the last Winter Solstice (they actually let you in amongst the stones at the Solstice, and there aren’t the insane crowds of the Summer celebration) but the weather was absolutely appalling (fog everywhere, planes cancelled yadayada) and we couldnt’ get a hire car, so I missed out.

  3. The stones with which I’m most familiar are in NW EIre, usually in pastures, mostly unappreciated except by sheep & cattle. One hilltop ring, near Derry from which can be seen the North Sea, the Atlantic & Sligo Bay, appears on maps but when I asked the farmer who owns the field if it had many visitors he said I was the only person for many years (in 1994). Within 10 kms of my own farm further south near Donegal Town I can think of at least 15 sites, ranging from cromlech tombs to flat rings and single monoliths and half appear on no map.

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