Circles of Stone Hardcover – 23 Sep 1999
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Categorised by the publisher as archaeology/history/photography, Circles of Stone does indeed straddle all these subjects. The volume is in itself a work of art, a stimulating introduction to a fascinating aspect of prehistory and a useful work of reference for anyone with an interest in ancient monuments. Fabulous photographs of 70 stone circles from all over the British Isles are accompanied by a factually rich text. The author, an established authority on prehistoric megaliths, gives an interesting impression of how the stones have been variously used and perceived through their long histories. Whilst allowing legend a voice, this text is not the place to find detailed speculation on prehistoric rites or ancient astronomy; its scope is more pragmatic and it includes details of the form and location of each monument and other interesting sites. Chronologically arranged, the selection begins with the circles of the Late Neolithic and ends in the Middle Bronze Age, showing a great variety of form over 2000 years. There is variety too in the photographic views, from panoramas to zoomed-in textural detail. The photographs themselves are dramatic. Taken in many different light conditions, they often capture the stones at their most evocative moments, showing how the illumination of the Sun and Moon and the form of the surrounding landscape is a vital part of their aura--just as was the case in prehistory. --Karen Tiley
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Top Customer Reviews
This, and things like the super-strokeable front and end-papers are why this book costs what it does. Milligan is described as one of Britain's most exciting new photographers, and he tackles the subject with energy. Commendably, he uses no ghastly graduated filters or other such fiddles. It hardly needs saying that Burl's lucid text and pithy wit are a pleasure, as always. There's even a 'carved head' from the Ring of Brodgar (frost action says Aubrey).
It's unusual in that there are no maps, and the circles are in order of date and name. Perhaps it's trying to steer away from being thought of as a guide book. Stirring the sites together like this makes for a fresh approach, and gives me the urge to reach again into the sack of reviewer's clichés and use the word juxtaposition. Apparently Circles of Stone was delayed three months from a July launch because the photography didn't come out 100% first time. This fanatic attention to quality is apparent throughout, and is doubtless why the Dr Burl was approached to write the text. Step aside Julian Cope, suddenly your holiday snaps look rather sad. I've run out of stars: 5/5!
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