Standing stones, orthostats, liths, or more commonly megaliths are solitary stones set vertically in the ground and come in many different varieties....
s arranged in a circle
A circle is a simple shape of Euclidean geometry consisting of those points in a plane that are a given distance from a given point, the centre. The distance between any of the points and the centre is called the radius....
. Such monuments have been constructed across the world throughout history for many different reasons.
The best stone tradition of stone circle construction occurred across the British Isles and Brittany in the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age
Stone circles in the British Isles and Brittany
The stone circles in the British Isles and Brittany were constructed as a part of a megalithic tradition that lasted from 3,300 to 900 BCE, during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age...
, with over 1000 examples still surviving to this day, including famous examples like Avebury
Avebury is a Neolithic henge monument containing three stone circles which is located around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, south west England. Unique amongst megalithic monuments, Avebury contains the largest stone circle in Europe, and is one of the best known prehistoric sites in Britain...
, the Rollright Stones
The Rollright Stones are a complex of three Neolithic and Bronze Age megalithic monuments located near to the village of Long Compton on the borders of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire in England...
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...
. Another prehistoric stone circle tradition occurred in southern Scandinavia during the Iron Age
Stone circle (Iron Age)
The stone circles of the Iron Age were a characteristic burial custom of southern Scandinavia, especially on Gotland and in Götaland during the Pre-Roman Iron Age and the Roman Iron Age. In Sweden, they are called Domarringar , Domkretsar or Domarsäten...
, where they were built to be mortuary monuments to the dead.
Outside of Europe, stone circles have also been erected, such as the Bronze Age examples from Hong Kong
Stone Circles (Hong Kong)
Stone Circles can be found in Hong Kong as Hong Kong is rich in Neolithic and Bronze Age artifacts.-Lo Ah Tsai Stone Circle:Lo Ah Tsai Stone Circle was discovered in the northern part of Lamma Island by K M A Barnett, District Commissioner of the New Territories in 1956...
The size and number of the stones varies from example to example, and the circle shape can be an ellipse.
All experts agree that stone circles are of pre-Christian date, but beyond that stone circles have proven difficult to date accurately.