Looking at: The Number of Stones

In common with most characteristics the number of stones in the different types of stone alignment vary considerably. The degree of variation means that this is unlikely to be a coincidence and is likely to have been deliberate and therefore a fundamental aspect of their design and presumably function. The numbers of stones in the different types of alignment are shown below and clicking on the pie chart illustration will increase its size.

The variety of stone numbers in all stone alignments is fairly consistent with all but one category being between 14% and 28%. The significant proportion of three stone rows suggests that this form was a distinct form of the monument class and it probably no coincidence that astronomical claims for this group of sites are numerous and often convincing. With 40% of all stone alignments consisting of six or less stones it is clear that rows consisting of relatively small number of stones are commonplace and that rows with more than 50 stones at 18% of the total resource are relatively rare, but common enough to be seen as a distinct and significant element of the whole resource.

When we look at the number of stones found within the different types of stone alignment it is clear that there are substantial differences and these are worth consideration. Single rows have the largest proportion of three stone alignments (31%) with 60% comprising six or less stones. These figures demonstrate that single rows often consist of six or less stones with only 8% including 50 or more stones. However when the figures for double alignments are examined it is perhaps unsurprisingly apparent that the number of stones is very different with 44% consisting of more than 20 stones with relatively few consisting of six or less. Clearly given that double alignments consist of two lines of stones one would reasonably expect the number of stones to be greater, but the figures do indicate that they represent more than a doubling up and that alignments of this form are characterised by a greater number of stones. Examples with small number of stones have generally seen damage and this is therefore reflected in the figures. The triple and multiple types of stone alignment all have significant proportions of examples with greater than 50 stones reflecting their very different form and emphasising the considerable visual differences between them and the single rows in particular.

In common with other stone alignment characteristics the number of stones varies considerably and again emphasises the considerable variety in form. The significant proportion of rows consisting of three stones is very unlikely to be a coincidence and indicates that they were built like this for a specific reason, on the other hand the same must be the case for those with large number of stones and the immense scale of the difference means that it is impossible that they could have served the same purpose. In this regard, it is worth pointing out that the total of 612 stones comprising the 155 separate stone alignments consisting of six or less stones is considerably less than the 922 stones forming the single long row in the Upper Erme Valley. This one statistic illustrates the magnitude of the difference between the number of stones in British stone alignments.

The Upper Erme valley stone alignment includes at least 922 stones.

Harolds Stones stone row in South Wales includes only three stones. The minimum required to qualify.

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First Published: 14th January 2016

Last Updated: 31st October 2019

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