The Giant Stones of Britain and Ireland
Consider Visiting Them on Your Next Holiday
Britain’s iconic standing stones are world renown for their enduring mystery – intrigue and speculation have flourished around them since recorded history began. While Stonehenge immediately comes to mind for most people thinking of a visit to a megalithic stone site, there are many other dramatic locales dotted across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland that await popular discovery, equally as fascinating but much less well known. What is a Megalith? A megalith is a very large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. The word megalithic describes structures made of such large stones without the use of mortar or concrete.
In a recent edition of British Archaeology Magazine, its editor, Mike Pitts, wrote, “In the last edition, I bemoaned the lack of books about megaliths written by archaeologists who can answer the questions that people ask. Then as if by magic, along came a remarkable guide, a glorious celebration of standing stones, tombs, rock art and a few other oddities.”
His dream-come-true was The Old Stones: A Field Guide to the Megalithic Sites of Britain and Ireland, unveiled in September 2018 as the most detailed field guide ever published to the prehistoric places of the region. It features more than 1,000 sites, with over 500 color photographs. It is packed with articles that will change the way you see these sites, from investigation into how the stones may have been aligned on prominent landscape features or celestial bodies, to up-to-the-minute archaeological insights based on computer modelling or sensory techniques, to highly contentious theories about Stonehenge.
Here is the only book about standing stones created by a whole community of megalith enthusiasts, as represented by the archaeologists, photographers, theorists, and amateur stones aficionados who post on the biggest megalithic website in the world: the Megalithic Portal, www.megalithic.co.uk. It offers unparalleled coverage of Britain and Ireland’s Neolithic Age (roughly 4,000 to circa 2,500 BC) and Bronze Age (roughly between 2,500 and 800 BC) sites, from standing stones, circles and henges, to dolmens, barrows and prehistoric settlements. All royalties from this book go to support the running of the Megalithic Portal.
For visitors interested in exploring these earliest witnesses to human history, we learn where these megaliths are, how to access them, what to look out for, and how to understand what is left on the ground. An introductory essay by archaeologist Vicki Cummings helps readers see the sites and surrounding landscapes through prehistoric eyes, while features throughout the book by different contributors cover a huge range of topics, including archaeological analyses of key sites, reports on cutting-edge excavations, archeoastronomy and discussions of alternative understandings, including otherworldly experiences, healing sites and dowsing.
[Travel with a Challenge Editor’s comment] “My favorite mini-article dropped into page 224 of this informative guidebook is titled “Stonehenge and the Glacial Transport Theory”. Earth scientist, Brian John, makes a very credible case for the glaciers during Britain’s last Ice Age having pushed a lot of enormous stones from Wales to southwest England before melting away. It certainly beats the long-held belief that teams of Bronze Age inhabitants dragged the stones across land from Wales to Wiltshire where they have become one of Britain’s most famous landmarks today.”
This is a guidebook to gift and to treasure, to pore over at home and take out on personal expeditions. It will appeal to anyone interested in history, archaeology, sacred sites, spirituality and traversing these ancient islands to delve into the distant and only partially-understood past.
The Old Stones: A Field Guide to the Megalithic Sites of Britain and Ireland
Edited by Andy Burnham
Watkins Publishing, September 2018 Paperback, 416 pages, includes over 30 maps and site plans and over 500 color photographs. ISBN-10: 1786781549; ISBN-13: 978-1786781543.
Available in bookstores across the UK, the US and Canada and through book purchase websites such as Amazon UK, Amazon US and Amazon Canada.
Guidebook editor, Andy Burnham is the founder and editor of the Megalithic Portal. He is a chartered Engineer and has designed electronic systems for some of the world’s top companies.
Amazon review of The Old Stones by Kayelle Allen, September 26, 2018
“There is a lot to like about this book. It’s well organized, has maps, hundreds of images, and best of all, a diverse group of individuals wrote the different pieces. This is not one person’s opinion, but the gathering of many sources, all arranged in concise and beautiful manner. It’s also huge! I keep it beside my favorite chair for quick reference and to pass the time just perusing. I’ve always been fascinated by megaliths and standing stones, and this book is a great guide for not only reading about them, it’s also a wonderful field guide to take on trips. This isn’t a pocket reference — it’s a one book encyclopedia. I consider this one of my finest resources.”
Follow Up Facts The Megalithic Portal is the world’s most-visited standing-stone website. It was set up by chartered engineer Andy Burnham in 2001 as a forum for megalith enthusiasts and to document, publicise and protect our prehistoric heritage, much of which is under threat today from development and intensive agriculture. This interactive website, run by Andy and a team of about a dozen other editors, has input content from thousands of contributors from all over the world, including professional photographers and archaeologists. They have assembled a worldwide resource of half a billion pages with 170,000 images and descriptions of over 50,000 ancient sites.
We recommend other Megalithic explorations of Scotland with two feature articles from our Travel Article Library collection: “Cruising the Outer Islands of Scotland” and “Standing in the Stone Age, the Megalithic Sites of Scotland’s Orkney Islands”. And for those interested in viewing Ice Age rock art in caves open to the public in France, Spain and Portugal, you will want to read our article, “Let’s Explore European Ice Age Art: Five Regions You Can Visit Today”.