Reading The Landscape
When we visit a standing stone or stone circle, we tend
only to look at the stone or stones themselves, marvelling
at their majesty and mystery. We might appreciate the
setting to some degree but we tend not to consider what the
purpose of the stones was originally, in the long forgotten
Each and every stone circle or standing stone was put
there for a reason. And with the amount of effort involved
even to erect a couple of large standing stones, that reason
had to be important. In many cases we can only speculate
what that original purpose was and many theories have been
put forward from astrological alignments to burial markers.
It is unlikely, unless we somehow manage to invent
time-travel, that we will ever know for certain why these
stones are there. However, there are clues and they can be
seen at almost every stone circle or standing stone.
We can find possible clues to the secret of these stones
from the surrounding landscape. When you are visiting an
ancient site, pay attention to what exists in the area, look
for clues in the actual lie of the land that might suggest
possible reasons for the stones existence.
There are many such clues, some obvious such as a
crossing point over a nearby river or stones that mark an
important alignment of moon or sunrise. Other are less
obvious such as the faint traces of a lost burial mound
- Look for crossing point over nearby rivers e.g. fords.
- Are there any associated prehistoric sites e.g. Iron
Age hill forts.
- Is the site elevated? Was is meant to be seen from
- Any ancient track ways or modern roads nearby?
- Is the site located along an old boundary line?
- Look for other ancient sites nearby e.g.
- Look at the map for possible ley-lines.
- Is there anything missing from the site? Other stones,
- Is there any folklore associated with the site of
- Look at local place names which can also suggest
- Look for ancient footpaths or fairy trails.
- Have any unusual sightings been recorded e.g. strange
Looking for these types of clues is not an exact science
and you need to use your imagination to see into the past,
to see what might have been, what perhaps might still be.
And don�t be put of with outlandish suggestions. Some of
the greatest discoveries in modern science were often
rejected until many years later. Remember, you don�t have
to justify your theory to anyone but yourself, although
sensible suggestions will be more readily accepted.
When reading the ancient landscape, it can be useful to
gain some height above the site, if this is possible. A pair
of binoculars or telescope might also come in useful for
scanning the surrounding area. Keep a notebook and record
what you find and if it relates to any of the sites listed
on Ancient Stones, please do drop me a line or two. It can
also be interesting to examine the surrounding fields,
walls, old quarries, ditches and hollows as these are where
many ancient stones tend to end up as a result of filed
clearance due to agriculture.
So, the next time you visit and ancient site, spend some
time just looking at the surrounding landscape, both close
to the stones and even as far out as the horizon. There is
more to these mysterious stones than at first appears.