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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 January 2012
We have good reason to be very grateful to Aubrey Burl, a respected archaeologist with an attention-grabbing style that makes even the technical details highly readable. This book isn't just a descriptive survey, it adds first-hand field experience to a clear retelling of information from archaeological reports buried in obscure publications and written in dreary language. Here, he has given us 50 key stone circles, set out by region through Great Britain and Eire, with all the information the interested layman could want on each, plus photographs and maps. This makes it ideal as a stone-circle-enthusiast's handbook. The photographs (many in colour) are surprisingly moody and atmospheric; Burl is acutely alive to the artistic and emotive power of his subject, its place in the landscape and significance to our ancestors. Swinside is described as "the loveliest of all the circles, like a ring of dancers holding hands", its slate "seal-grey". At Ardblair, where a road runs through the stones, "the dust of the dead and petrol fumes are commingled". This strong feeling for the context makes the book powerful and compelling to read, without ever descending into sensationalism. Not all the circles featured are large and impressive, but all are made interesting and reading this book will make you want to set out and visit them all.

Burl takes on the various theories about stone circles, from the soberly hypothetical to the marginal, viewing them with common sense and, at times, a certain impatience. On Ley Lines: "Watkins' leys, however, frequently shot across ravines or wallowed through the roughest falls of rivers suggesting that prehistoric people were unbelievably stupid in their choice of routes. This problem has caused today's ley-liners to reinterpret the lines as a network of telepathic rays, of 'telluric' energy for the spiritual and physical energising of a people. As one of their advocates remarked, "This is extremely difficult to prove"." If this sceptical attitude annoys you, best leave the book alone, as Burl's no-nonsense approach will antagonise you. It should be noted that, since this book was published in 1979, the science of geophysics has come on enormously, and archaeologist are able to see soil features like stone pits without excavating. This has led to new information on many stone circles, so some of Burl's conjectures may have been superceded, though they were sound at the time. A more recent treatment will be found in the 2005 A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany Also well worth reading is Burl's Prehistoric Avebury
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on 7 April 2013
Although a little dated in appearance this is an informed read by one of the fore runners in this field...
There is still much un known about the standing stone monoliths on this planet, In this volume Aubey Burl explores some of the better known around Britain and Ireland...
Owing mostly to its age there is much speculation as to uses or the true historical context of many of the sites mentioned here but if ancient history is your thing, I am sure you will probably learn something.
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This books is a must for people wanting a more in depth work on the stone circles of Britain. It is loaded with pictures, both colour and b&w, maps, how to locate each circle, a overview of the stone placement and a deleted account of the history, excavations and facts concerning each. It covers the top 50 rings of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, grouping them in sections for areas.
A wonderfully detail work!!
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