The West Kennet stone alignment leading towards Avebury henge.
So far this year stone rows on Dartmoor, Central Scotland, the Isle of Mull, Wiltshire, Exmoor, Mid Wales and other parts of Wales have been visited as part of the ongoing research. This work has confirmed the abundant presence of tangible and demonstrable visual links between the rows and the landscapes in which they were constructed. The Gazetteer entries have been updated, but much remains to be done. Of particular interest is the frequent landmark reveals, restricted views and the confirmation that the rows appear to acknowledge prominent features at the limit of visibility. The sea view theme identified first at Bancbryn and subsequently confirmed on Dartmoor has been examined in other parts of the country and the results to date have confirmed that many of the rows have particular visual links with the sea. To date 40% of the known accepted rows have been visited and the recurring evidence for precise visual links represents powerful evidence that the rows were carefully placed within the landscape. This precision in turn implies that the builders of the rows needed their monuments to interact in a particular way with their landscape and that their function was therefore in some way connected with this need. At the very least it has been possible to demonstrate with certainty that the rows were not built at random. They were built where they are because each location offered the builders something special and the various updated Gazetteer entries explore what these might have been. In the coming weeks some of the rows in Northern Scotland will be visited and preliminary analysis indicates that even these untypical examples will have the same precise visual relationships found elsewhere in Britain. Whilst we will never know the precise character of the ritual activities practiced at the stone rows, it is now possible to be confident that distant special places were incorporated. The reveals found at most rows are particularly interesting and almost certainly played a role in the ritual. The importance of visual relationships between certain types of prehistoric sites has long been recognised and it is therefore should not come as a surprise to find that the stone alignments form part of this tradition.
The enhancement of the Gazetteer and in particular amendments to the data means that many of the Regional summary pages are now out of date. These will be updated during the winter months.
As always, if you spot any errors please get in touch.
Hill O’ Many Stanes. Rows come in many sizes and forms, but all of them have special visual relationships with significant landmarks. This consistency makes it very unlikely that this is a coincidence and must therefore be deliberate. This deliberation provides a tantalising insight into the past.