sacred

AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW OF STONE CIRCLES
By Sarah Rooke, Archdruidess

In ‘Atlantis: Myth or Reality’, Murry Hope puts forward the theory that Stone Circles were probably built by the survivors (or their descendents) of the sunken land of Atlantis, which is said to have gone down around c 10,000-6,000 BCE, i.e. during the ages of Leo and Cancer (Hesiod’s Silver and Golden Age), or the Mesolithic (Middle) to Neolithic (New) Stone Ages.  This occurred as a result of a cosmic calamity involving certain planetary bodies and the Earth, which was knocked out of its orbit into its present one and resulted in the last major polar shift.

Murry writes:  ‘People escaping the Flood... would be required to adapt to the lands upon which their ships were cast…Those fortunate enough to find themselves in the safe harbours of Egypt, Greece, Spain…or even Hyperborea would have found conditions not dissimilar to those they had known at home.  The less fortunate, however, would have been faced with….a possibly hostile environment where the only shelter was caves, and the only building material available was wood.’

Some evidence for this may be gleamed from Egypt in the writings of Manetho on the History of the Kings, the ‘Shemsu Hor’ or Followers of Horus arriving as recorded in the Turin Papyrus and in the archives of the Ammonites of Egypt (a group who practise the ‘Old Ways’), who mention the arrival of Ausar and Auset (Osiris and Isis) and their kin in Sinai around 10,450 years ago (see ‘Ancient Egypt: The Sirius Connection’ by Murry Hope).

As Murry so wisely points out, the apparent lack of scientific evidence dating from this time is used to nip in the bud any mention of Atlantis possibly even existing.  But as she writes, had there been tools or technology employed in the building of these monuments, we can hardly expect them to be around some 10,000 years later.  As she asks, how many of our modern cars will be intact 10,000 years from now?  ‘For the only material to last would be stone’, Murry says, ‘and that is precisely what has happened!’

However, as Murry notes not all Stone Circles used Atlantean knowledge.  We remember that there are other monolithic monuments in other parts of the world,

Carnac in Brittany, Easter Island in the Pacific etc.  Some may have Mu-an influences, e.g. South America.  There are also marked similarities between the Pyramids of Egypt and South America  What Murry gives as an explanation, is that there were probably different racial groups in Atlantis just as we have today in our own modern society.  These scattered over a period of time prior to the Flood and at the final end of the continent.  If Atlantean society was as advanced as arcane tradition teaches us, then it is reasonable to assume that their scientists were aware of what was forthcoming and as many people as possible migrated before the end.  There is evidence of land links between Asia and North America, by which the people had emigrated over from Siberia in the past.  Recent research by author Graham Hancock  (‘Underworld:  Flooded Kingdoms of the Ice Age’) has revealed that large land masses of land were submerged at the time of the Flood at the end of the last Ice Age, with evidence of past civilisations that existed 10,000 years ago.

There is also the geological evidence of Continental Drift, i.e. how all the continents were originally joined as one land mass called Pangaea.  This then split into two, Gondwanaland in the South and Lurasia in the North.  The continents over thousands of years further drifted apart, until we have the map of the planet as it is seen today. 

Linked with this is the theory of Plate Tectonics, where the ‘plates’ of the Earth’s crust push against one another, hence forming earthquakes and mountains.

Murry once noted the correlation of the known map given by Plato of the Capital City of Atlantis, with the overall plan of Stonehenge in a lecture in 1997.  Coincidence?  Maybe, but what if Atlantean refugees in England simply built a replica of their Sacred City, the City of the Golden Gates, Chalidocean, for worship?  I also find it interesting that the layout of the Royal City of Atlantis also resembles many ground plans for mazes, and can be found on stone Celtic Crosses.  There is also a resemblance to the Druidic ‘Circles of Creation’.  A root memory?

In Time: The Ultimate Energy’, Murry offers a more scientitic explanation, using research from Dr Don Robbins of the Institute of Archaeology, who observed that stone circles …’appeared to enclose natural force fields and at the time of the equinoxes,. emitted ultrasonic signals, regardless of whether the sun was visible and independent of weather conditions.  As the year draws on towards the solstices, the signals fade away….’ Murry also notes the electromagnetic activity given when one is within stone circles and the relationship between geological fault lines as being significant for UFO’s and other events of an ‘X File’ status. 

If we take the Oracles of Ancient Greece for example, the effect of the place upon the Pythonness induced an altered state of consciousness for her to deliver her words of wisdom from the gods in deep trance.  Ley-lines, or the Fairy/Dragon lines of the Celts, appear to link such sacred sites with one another.  If we take the Stonehenge-Avebury ley, there are several pre-historic sites linking each other i.e. West Kennet Long Barrow, the Sanctuary and Silbury Hill. (see Ross Nichols, ‘The Book of Druidry’). 
Murry theorises that stone circles, like the pyramids, may have been ‘time capsules’ in a sense of containing data relating to our part, which lets face it, we have little knowledge off.  Perhaps people in tune with the Earth can tap into these places and then experience something about it.

On the effect on the supplicant/observer, Murry writes: ‘The study of ancient monuments and megaliths has supplied sufficient evidence to suggest that the patterns of solar and lunar cycles, and their effect on all life forms was certainly understood by the people….’  Everyone will have heard of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, whish strikes so many when summer ends and winter begins.  This ties up with the circadian rhythms which are controlled by the pineal gland, in other words it is our ‘body clock’.  How many of us are put out at the putting forward and back of the clocks every year?  In ancient times, this problem would have been avoided by the specially designed seasonal ceremonies.

There have been in recent years many theories about Stonehenge and Stone Circles, these range from the new age to the scientific. From Erich van Daniken to being built by the French, perhaps we may never know who built them and for what purpose.  Maybe in future, discoveries in science and archaeology will reveal the truth and the stones will give up their secrets.  This brief study has attempted to provide an overview of an alternative standpoint from one of Britain’s most respected writers in this field.  However, there is more than space permits, so I refer to the books already listed for those wanting to go further.

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AN A TO Z OF SACRED SITES AND OTHER PLACES
By Sarah Rooke, Archdruidess

AVEBURY (nr Marlborough, Wiltshire)

One of Britain’s most well known stone circles, dating from around 4000 years ago and originally consisted of 180 stones.  Today it is possible to see two stone circles surrounded by an outer circle.  The larger circle is surrounded by a henge and at the southern entrance; the stone avenue used for processions still stands.

BOSCAWEN-UN STONE CIRCLE (nr Lands End, Cornwall)

Famous stone circle that is still used by the Cornish Gorsedd today.  Many votive offerings have been found here, and the whole place has very much a faery ring feel to it.  The central impressive stone is made of quartz.

BRYN-CELLI-DDU BURIAL CHAMBER (nr Llandaniel Fab, Anglesey)

This Stone Age burial mound is around 4000 years old.  A short passage leads to the central chamber, which has an upright stone that is believed to have been used in rituals.  Outside is a replica standing stone with spiral marks on it, though the original is in the National Museum of Wales.

BUTSER HILL (nr Petersfield, Hampshire)

An Iron Age farm was found here and has been reconstructed at the famous Ancient Farm Project.  The site is also an ancient hill fort and abounds with barrows, and has been used by local pagans today for ceremonies.

CADBURY CASTLE (Dorset)

No relation to the chocolate company, this ancient hill fort is said to be the site of King Arthur’s Camelot.  The ramparts date from the Iron Age, but the place was well occupied into the Saxon times.

CALLANISH STANDING STONES (Lewis, Western Isles)

A unique cross shaped arrangement of standing stones dating from around 3000 BC can be seen here.  This is a rare construction from this time, and local legends abound.  It is believed that the Stones may have stellar alignments.

CASTELL DINAS BRAN (nr Llangollen, North Wale)

This Iron Age hill fort was well used right into the Middle Ages.  The name Bran comes from the Celtic hero King, whose head is said to be buried at Tower Hill in London.  The site is also said to be the resting place for the Holy Grail.

CASTELL HENLLYS (Pembrokeshire, Wales)

This ancient Iron Age hill fort has been reconstructed with three roundhouses.  The site was used for the programme ‘Surviving the Iron Age’.

CASTLERIGG (nr Keswick, Cumbria)

This site consists of 33 standing stones, including the King Stone, and is generally thought to be one of the oldest stone circles in Britain.  Set into the mountains of the Lake District, this place has appeared on many book covers.  The place has suffered from seismic disturbances, but it doesn’t distract from the beauty.

CERNE ABBAS GIANT (Dorset)

This famous naked figure holding a club is believed to be 1500 years old, and thought to be either Hercules or a local Celtic god.  Local legend states that any maidens who sleep on the giant will surely become pregnant.

DANEBURY RINGS (nr Andover, Hants)

This is the well preserved site of an Iron Age hill fort. Excavations from the place suggest that it was quite well developed with streets at the time of the Romans. 

DIN LLIGWY ANCIENT VILLAGE (nr Llanallgo, Anglesey)

This is the remains of a Romano-Celtic village that was finally abandoned in the 5th century AD.  The remains of a Chieftain’s dwelling complete with hearth, workshop and ritual place with an altar can still be seen here.

GLASTONBURY (Somerset)

The legendary site of King Arthur’s island paradise, Avalon.  It is said that Arthur and his queen Guinevere are buried in the ruins of the Abbey.  It is also believed that the Holy Grail lies below Chalice Spring on the Tor.  Also, Glastonbury Tor itself is believed to be the entrance to the Land of the Faeries.

IONA (off Mull, Argyll and Bute)

This sacred isle was once home to the early Celtic Christians.  St Columba built the earliest monastery here in 563 AD.  The burial place of 48 Scottish kings, the abbey seen today dates from the 13th century and the oldest surviving relic is St Martin’s Cross, dating from the 10th century.

LINDISFARNE (Northumberland)

Otherwise known as Holy Island, this place was first founded by St Aidan of Iona who built a monastery in 635 AD at the request of King Oswald.  The place soon developed a reputation for scholarship and was plundered by the Vikings around 875 AD.  The last of the monks left at the time of the Reformation.

LONG MAN OF WILMINGTON (nr Eastbourne, Sussex)

This famous chalk figure stands on Windover Hill.  The Long Man (or Woman), holds two poles, one either side, suggesting a doorway beyond.  It is not known how old this site may be, perhaps 2000 years old at least.

LONG MEG AND HER DAUGHTERS (nr Penrith, Cumbria)

One of the largest stone circles in Britain, dating from the Bronze Age.  Long Meg herself is a large sandstone heel stone said to be a local witch turned to stone, and it has interesting cup and ring marks and is oddly outside the circle.  The other remaining 70 odd granite stones are believed to be her coven.

MAES HOWE AND MINE HOWE CHAMBERED CAIRNS (nr Kirkwall, Orkney)

Was recently the subject of a ‘Time Team’ dig.  These are fine (if abit spooky) examples of megalithic cairns.  They have large mounds that cover a stone built passage leading into a burial chamber inside.  Mine Howe is though to be the more ritualistic, whilst Maes Howe was broken into by the Vikings.

MAIDEN CASTLE (nr Dorchester, Dorset)

This is one of the finest surviving Iron Age hill forts in Britain.  Its enormous earthworks make it an unmissable sight, linked with ramparts and entrances.  Sadly, its defences were not enough to hold of the Roman army and the fort fell in AD 43, leading to most of the inhabitants being killed. 

MEN-AN-TOL (nr Lands End, Cornwall)

Famous three stone monument, looking like a prehistoric ‘101’.  It is traditional to climb through the ‘O’ or holed stone nine times as a cure for disease and as an aid to fertility and safe childbirth.

MERRY MAIDEN’S STONE CIRCLE (nr Land’s End, Cornwall)

Another famous Cornish monument, the Maidens are said to be have star alignments.  Local legend has it that the Maidens were a bunch of maidens turned to stone for dancing long after a party on a Sunday.

MONA (Anglesey)

Otherwise known as Holy Island, this is the place where the last of the Druids were massacred by the Romans at the time of the Boudiccan revolt in AD 69.  For this alone reflect on what was lost, but also on what has been gained since then.

NEWGRANGE (nr Drogheda, County Meath)

This is the famous Irish passage tomb near the Boyne.  Dating from around 3000 BC, this Neolithic monument is well known for its spiral carvings inside, and the fact that the sun makes its entrance as a ray of light through an aperture at the Winter Solstice down the passageway to the end of the tomb.

OLD SARUM (nr Salisbury, Wiltshire)

This great hill fort was first built in the Iron Age and was taken over in later times by the Romans, Saxons and Normans.  At the time of the Normans, it reached its peak and had a castle along with a cathedral.  By the Middle Ages, the settlement had fallen into disuse with the construction of modern day Salisbury’s cathedral.

POULNABRONE DOLMEN (County Clare, Eire)

Spectacular portal burial chamber, very much a gateway to the stars.  Dating from around 2500 BC, this is one of Ireland’s finest surviving monuments.

ROLLRIGHT STONES (nr Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire)

These three groups of stones are known as the Kings Men, the Whispering Knights and the Kings Stone.  They were constructed round the Neolithic to Bronze Ages.  An old tale recounts how Mother Shipton changed a local king and all his men into the standing stones that we see today. 

SEAHENGE (nr Flag Fen, Norfolk)

Sadly there isn’t much left of this now.  Subject to an English Heritage excavation recently, this consisted of one of the rarest timbered circles dating from the Bronze Age.  The great central timber was removed for conservation work.  However, a reconstruction does stand nearby built by the ‘Time Team’ programme.

SILBURY HILL (nr West Kennet, Wilts)

Part of the Avebury complex.  This artificial prehistoric mound dates from the Neolithic period and is the largest of its type in Europe.  Sadly, has been subject to some collapse in recent times due to past excavations.  It is not known what this was used for, though it is thought to have been processional.

SKARA BRAE PREHISTORIC VILLAGE (Kirkwall, Orkney)

Local legend has it that you only have to scratch the surface of Orkney to find archaeology.  Here we have one of the best preserved groups of Stone Age houses in Europe.  It laid buried beneath sand until a storm revealed it in 1850.  It consists of 5000 year old beds, cupboards and dressers.

STANTON DREW STONE CIRLCE (nr Bath)

 One of the finest Neolithic sites in Britain.  It consists of three stone circles, two stone avenues and a burial chamber.  Recent excavations have revealed a temple similar in construction to Woodhenge, also.

STONEHENGE (nr Amesbury, Wilshire)

I could not write a piece on Sacred Sites without including this one.  This great and ancient Stone Circle is considered to be one of the wonders of the world.  The place was originally built between 3000 to 1600 BC.  Amongst the stones used, was bluestone from the Preseli Mountains in Wales and sandstone from the local Marlborough Downs.  Various theories have surfaced in recent years to how the place was built and what it was used for, though no one knows for sure.  However, ceremonial meeting place, observatory or whatever, there is no doubt that certain stones are aligned at the summer and winter solstices.  The place has also lost none of its mystery and magic, a testament to the many pilgrims who still gather today.

TARA (nr Newgrange, County Meath)

Famous ancient ceremonial site of the High Kings of Ireland. Dating from around 500 BC, this is the place setting of many of the legends of the Tuatha de Danaan.

TINTAGEL CASTLE (Cornwall)

Legend has it that this is the place where King Arthur was born to Queen Igraine after her seduction by Uther Pendragon, aided with the help of Merlin.  However, Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century was responsible for this tale.  Tintagel was originally a Roman fort, and then fell into the hands of the Normans.  The place is also thought to be where Tristram fell in love with Iseult.

UFFINGTON WHITE HORSE (nr Wantage, Oxford)

This site lies along the Ridgeway, an ancient route.  There is a large Iron Age fort and ramparts, a natural mound known as Dragon Hill, and of course, the famous White Horse cut into the chalk.  It is believed that this site may have some star alignments and was used in rituals.

WEST KENNET LONG BARROW (nr West Kennet, Wiltshire)

This Neolithic chambered tomb consists of a long earthen mound that contains a passage and side chamber.  The entrance is guarded by a large stone.  When the tomb was first excavated, the remains of more than 30 people were found inside.

WOODHENGE (nr Amesbury, Wiltshire)

This Neolithic ceremonial place is the forerunner of Stonehenge, and is thought to date from around 2300 BC.  It consists of a bank and ditch and six concentric rings of timber posts.  The entrance points to the rising sun on Midsummer’s Day and in the centre, a burial can be seen.

Suggested Further Reading:

Janet and Colin Bord – Ancient Mysteries of Britain
Julian Cope – The Modern Antiquarian
Ross Nichols – Book of Druidry

 

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