Page:A Book of Dartmoor.djvu/88

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within them; but none, so far, have been found in those on Dartmoor. In the great circle on Penmaenmavvr there were burials at the foot of several of the monoliths, and, indeed, one of these served as the backstone of a kistvaen.

Among semi-barbarous tribes it is customary that the tribe should have its place of assembly and consultation, and this is marked round by either stones or posts set up in the ground. Among some of the great clan circles, if one of the constituent tribes fails to send its representative, the stone set up where he would sit is thrown down.

The areas within the circles on Dartmoor, so far as they have been examined, show that great fires have been lighted in them; the floors are thickly bedded in charcoal. It may be that they were the crematoria of the tribe, and certainly numerous cairns and kistvaens are to be found around them; or it may be that great fires were lighted in them when the tribe met for its parliament, or its games and war-dances. It has been noticed that usually these circles of upright stones are placed on the neck of land between two rivers.

Some have speculated that they were intended for astronomical observation, and for determining the solstices; but such fancies may be dismissed till we have evidence of their being erected and employed for such a purpose by some existing savage race.

The Samoyeds were wont to make circles of stones of rude blocks set up, and these are still to be seen in the districts they inhabit; and although these people are nominally Christians, yet they are secretly