Friday, January 7, 2011

OUTLANDER Links, Part 12: Standing Stones

As an OUTLANDER fan, I can't help but be fascinated by the many ancient stone circles found throughout the world. Before I read Diana Gabaldon's books, I'd heard of Stonehenge, of course, but I had no idea that there were so many other formations of standing stones throughout the UK and elsewhere.

I have never had the opportunity to see any of these places in person. (Still hoping to go to Scotland some day!) If any of you have seen a stone circle, feel free to post here and tell us what it was like.

Here are some pictures and links I've collected about stone circles around the world. Hope you enjoy them!

England


Stonehenge


Another view of Stonehenge

Here's a recent episode of the PBS program "Nova", called "Secrets of Stonehenge", which explores one theory about the origins and construction of Stonehenge. It's almost an hour long, but pretty interesting, especially when they try to recreate how the ancient builders of Stonehenge managed to move those huge stones over long distances.


Castlerigg, England


The stone circle shown above is known as Long Meg and Her Daughters, located near Penrith, Cumbria, England. To get a better view, look at the panorama here. (Note: requires Java in order to see it!)

For those of you who have read "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows": I am convinced that this is where Jerry MacKenzie's plane went down in October, 1941. It's in more or less the right location, it's unmistakably a stone circle, and it's clearly visible from the air. Just speculating, of course, but it works for me. <g>

Scotland


Callanish, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. The logo for my blog shows another view of the Callanish stones. I think they're beautiful, in an eerie and mysterious sort of way. <g> And the closest thing I've ever seen to what I imagine Craigh na Dun might look like.



Clava Cairns, Scotland

This picture reminds me of Claire's reaction when she visits Corrimony Cairn, where General Simon Fraser will be buried.
No buzzing, no screaming, no sensation at all. It was just a rock. After all, I thought, there was no reason why all standing stones should be assumed to mark time portals. Presumably the ancient builders had used stones to mark any place of significance— and surely a cairn like this one must have been significant. I wondered what sort of man--or woman, perhaps?--had lain here, leaving no more than an echo of their bones, so much more fragile than the enduring rocks that sheltered them.

(From An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 75 ("Sic Transit Gloria Mundi"). Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Around the World


Drombeg, County Cork, Ireland


Megaliths of Almendres, Portugal


Wassu, Gambia, West Africa

Just for Fun

This collection of Wild and Wacky Stonehenge Replicas is good for a laugh. I like "Foamhenge" (pictured below) the best.



More Information

There is a lot more information about stone circles here. (Check out their picture gallery!)

Here is an interactive map showing the location of all the various stone circles and similar formations throught the UK. You can zoom in to see the exact location, as well as pictures of the standing stones.

If you find these links interesting, check out my previous "OUTLANDER Links" blog entries:

OUTLANDER Links, Part 14: 18th Century Clothing
OUTLANDER Links, Part 13: Plants and Herbs
OUTLANDER Links, Part 11: Science and Technology
OUTLANDER Links, Part 10: Weaponry
OUTLANDER Links, Part 9: Historical Events
OUTLANDER Links, Part 8: 18th Century Medicine
OUTLANDER Links, Part VII: Gemstones
OUTLANDER Links, Part VI: Wildlife
OUTLANDER Links, Part V: Castles and Palaces
OUTLANDER Links, Part IV: Native Americans
OUTLANDER Links, Part III: All Things Scottish
OUTLANDER Links, Part II: Colonial North Carolina
OUTLANDER Links, Part I: Culloden
What Do These Things Look Like?

8 comments:

sophie said...

Hi Karen
I have visited a couple of the circles on your list.
When I visited Stonhenge, sadly the public were not permitted to walk amongst the stones, but view them from across the road after paying an entrance fee.... I am not sure if this is still the case as I havent visited since.
The complete opposite applied on visiting Clava Cairns.Visitors have complete freedom in this ancient site. My family and I sat and enjoyed a picnic amongst the stones enjoying the peace, atmosphere and the freedom to explore the stones and Cairns.

Sophie

Louise said...

There are hundreds here in the UK. Try googling Avebury in Wiltshire, Minons in Cornwall, Merry Maidens in Cornwall and Arbor Low in Derbyshire. Most of them are somehow linked to ancient burial grounds and settlements making linear patterns across the countryside.

Ever since I've read the Outlander books my Mum and I take great pleasure in seeing if we can "hear" anything unusual. ;-)

Karen Henry said...

Louise:

You're lucky to live in a place where there are a lot of these sites. To me, living in the U.S., stone circles seem very exotic and mysterious.

So, have you ever heard anything? :-)

Karen

Karen Henry said...

Sophie:

Well, as I say, I hope to be able to visit the UK some day and see some of these places for myself. Too bad that you can't get close to Stonehenge anymore, but thanks for the tip about the Clava Cairns. (Trying to imagine what Claire would think about picnicking among the standing stones! She'd probably be pretty freaked out by the idea. <g>)

Karen

Pat said...

Clava Cairns were a bit too spooky for us to picnic anywhere near, I'm afraid. I did manage to touch the split stone but my friend Linda (more sensitive than I am to these things) found it quite disturbing.
I loved Avebury - we arrived about dusk and it was very atmospheric without being spooky. Stonehenge is a disappointment due to the number of tourists and fences keeping you well away from the stones.
My visit to Castlerigg was interesting... half way to the centre of the circle I felt compelled to stop. No idea why but friends felt a similar effect. A couple were drumming at the edge which also added to the atmosphere. The stone circle is high itself but is in a bowl of hills/mountains around it ... probably the best position of the circles I've visited.
I look out for them on my travels - amazing creations.

Karen Henry said...

Interesting comments, Pat -- thanks!

KAren

Wanda said...

I visited Stonehenge last February and there was a rope that circled the stones so that tourists couldn't walk amongst them. Luckily, we didn't have to look from across the road. We walked around the stones in pouring rain and high winds. It was quite eerie with the dark clouds hovering over the stones. Once the rain stopped, I was able to get a great picture with ominous looking clouds hanging over the stones. It was a great experience just being there. Thanks for posting all these stone circles. I didn't know there were so many!

Karen Henry said...

Wanda:

I'm glad you liked the pictures! I was really surprised at the number and variety of stone circles all over the world. It's pretty amazing.

Karen