Ahead of the publication of a fantastic new book on stone circles, Megalith: Studies in Stone, author Robin Heath and publisher John Martineau unveil their definitive shortlist of Britain’s most remarkable megaliths.
1. Stonehenge, Wiltshire
Britain’s ancient temple is primarily a synthesis of the sun and moon in stone. Contact English Heritage for a quiet private access visit to evade the daily hordes, allowing you to wander freely among the stones in the misty morning or evening.
2. Avebury, Wiltshire
The largest stone circle in the world, Avebury is part of a huge complex of Neolithic sites, including the West Kennet Longbarrow, Silbury Hill, and beautiful Fyfield Down (where the stones came from). Take time to walk widely in the area and savour the stunning landscape.
3. Callanish, Outer Hebrides
Almost nothing can prepare you for the extraordinary wild beauty of Callanish. It’s like a work of modern art. Take the ferry to the Isle of Harris from Skye and drive west to the stones. Don’t miss the other smaller stone circles in the area.
4. Stanton Drew, Somerset
The third temple of southern England, after Stonehenge and Avebury, Stanton Drew is almost always deserted, as though a spell has been put on it. Three stone circles (two fallen), a cove, a quoit and a pub called The Druid’s Arms make for a very enjoyable afternoon.
5. Ring of Brodgar, Orkney
One of the most beautifully sited stone circles. With the exciting discovery of a neolithic university on the Ness of Brodgar, and the nearby Stones of Stenness and Maes Howe chambered observatory, Orkney is where it’s all happening.
6. Castlerigg, Cumbria
At 3200 BC, Castlerigg is the oldest stone circle in Europe, with a typical flattened shape. It is also widely acknowledged as being the most beautiful. The backdrop of the hills of the Lake District make you feel as if you are in a truly enchanted space.
7. Long Meg, Cumbria
Among the largest stone circles in the world, Long Meg is a circle flattened along one side, a common design in the Lake District. Meg herself is a tall stone with carved “cup and ring” markings, set away to the south west, marking the midwinter sunset.
8. Druid’s Circle, Conwy
North Wales’s finest prehistoric ring, this large ellipse, with side dressings, stands on top of Penmaenmawr mountain. Remote and desolate, one stone indeed looks like a cowled Druid guarding what once took place here.
9. Scorhill, Devon
One of the loveliest small circles in Britain, Scorhill is on the northeast edge of Dartmoor, not far from Gidleigh and Chagford. No houses, fields or roads can be seen from the circle, only moorland, wild horses, elder trees and waterfalls.