Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/989

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964
STONE MONUMENTS



300 yds. and contains 93 stones, some of which are of great size. At St Columb, in Cornwall, there is one called the Nine Maidens, which consists of eight quartz stones extending in a perfectly straight line for 262 ft. In Britain, however, the alignments are more frequently arranged in a double file, or in avenues leading to, or from, other megalithic monuments, such as still exist, or formerly existed, in connexion with the cromlechs or circles at Avebury, Stonehenge, Dartmoor, Shap, Callernish, &c. The stone circle at Callernish, in the island of Lewis, shows an unusually elaborate design with two parallel rows of upright stones running northwards and a single line across, thus presenting a cruciform appearance. A very tall menhir (17 ft. long) occupies the centre of the circle (42 ft. in diameter). The peat which in the course of ages had accumu- lated to a depth of 5 ft. was removed in 1858, and hence the characteristic features of this remarkable monument are well seen in the Plate, fig. 3. The only example in England comparable to the great alignments of Carnac is in the vale of the White Horse, in Berkshire. Here the stones, numbering about 800, are grouped in three divisions, and ei .end over an irregular parallelogram measuring from 500 to 600 yds. in length and from 250 to 300 yds. in breadth. Sir Henry D r yden describes several groups of alignments in Caithness, as at Garry- whin, Camster, Yarhouse, and the " Many Stones " at Clyth (Fergusson, Rude Stone Monuments, p. 529). Alignments in single and multiple rows have also been observed in Shetland, India, Algeria, &c.

Cromlechs. — In Britain the use of the word cromlech is vir- tually synonymous with that of dolmen. In France, however, and on the Continent generally, it is exclusively applied to that class of monument for which in this country only the descrip- tive name of " stone circles," or " circles of standing stones," is used. This application of the term in various countries to different classes of monuments has given rise to some confusion. The earliest known use of the word occurs in Bishop Morgan's translation of the Bible into Welsh (1588), where " the clefts of the rocks " is rendered by cromlechydd y creigiau. Its earliest occurrence in the special sense in which it has continued to be used by British antiquaries is in a description of some ancient remains by the Rev. John Griffith of Llanddyfnan (1650), in which he says — " There is a crooked little cell of stone not far from Alaw, where according to tradition Bronwen Leir was buried; such little houses, which are common in this country, are called by the apposite name cromlechaw." In this article the word cromlech retains its continental meaning and is exclusively used to indicate enclosures (enceintes) formed of rude monoliths placed at intervals of a few yards; and as such enclosures generally assume a circular, or oval, shape they are not infrequently described as stone circles. Rectangular enclosures are, however, not unknown, examples of which may be seen at Curcunno (Morbihan), near the well known dolmen of that name, and at Saint Just (Ille-et-Vilaine). The former measures 37 by 27 yds., and is now composed of 22 menhirs, all of which are standing (some fallen ones having been restored by the government), while about a dozen appear to be wanting. A " donkey-shoe-shaped " enclosure has been described by Sir Henry Dryden in the parish of Latheron, Caithness, measur- ing 226 ft. long, no ft. wide in the middle, and 85 ft. wide at the two extremities. Stone circles are frequently arranged concentrically, as may be seen in the circles at Kenmore, near Aberfeldy, Perthshire, as well as in many other Scottish, Irish and Scandinavian examples. More rarely one large circle surrounds inner groups without having a common centre, as at Avebury where the outer circle (1200 ft. in diameter) sur- rounded two others each of which contained an inner con- centric circle. The stone circle of Ballynoe, Co. Down, Ireland, consists of inner and outer (eccentric) circles; the former measures about 57 ft. in diameter with 22 stones, and the latter 105 ft. in diameter with 45 stones. At Boscawen, in Cornwall, there is a group of circles confusedly attached and partially overlapping. Also, on the small island of Er-Lanic (near the famous tumulus of Gavr'inis), ther-j is a double


cromlech (now partially submerged) , the circles of which intersect each other. Cromlechs may also be connected by alignments or avenues, as already explained; and they are often associated with other megalithic monuments. Thus, at the end of the great Carnac alignments are the remains of a large circle which can be readily traced, notwithstanding that some houses are constructed within its area. In the British Isles and in the north of Europe they frequently surround dolmens (as at Carrowmore, Ireland— Plate, fig. 4), tumuli and cairns. A few examples of a dolmen being surrounded by one or more circles have been recorded by M. Cartailhac from the department of Aveyron, in France. Outside the stone circle there is also frequently to be found a circular ditch as at Avebury, Stone- henge, Arbor Low, Ring of Brogar, &c. The most remark- able megalithic monument of this class now extant is Stone- henge, which differs, however, from its congeners in having the stones of its outer circle partially hewn and attached by trans- verse lintels. The largest cromlech in France was situated at the village of Kergonan, on the Ile-aux-Moines (Morbihan), about the half of it being now destroyed by the encroachment of the houses. The remaining semi-circumference contains 36 menhirs, from 6 to 10 ft. high, and its diameter is abcut 328 ft. This cromlech, like so many English " circles," was not circular but slightly elliptical. Only a few of the British cromlechs exceed these dimensions, among which may be mentioned Avebury (1260 by 1170 ft.), Stonehenge (outer circle 300 ft., inner 106 ft.), Stanton Drew (360 ft.), Brogar (345 ft.), Long Meg and her Daughters (330 ft.). One near Dumfries with n stones and 291 ft. in diameter, called the Twelve Apostles, also closely approaches what Fergusson calls the 100-metre size; but, generally speaking, the Scotch and Irish examples are of smaller proportions, rarely exceeding 100 ft. in diameter. That most of the smaller circles have been used as sepulchres has been repeatedly proved by actual excavations which showed that interments had taken place within their areas. It is difficult, however, to believe that this could have been the main object of the larger ones. At Mayborough, near Penrith, there is a circular mound entirely composed of an immense aggregation of small stones in the form of a gigantic ring and enclosing a flat area, about 300 ft. in diameter. This ipace is entered by a wide aperture in the ring, and near the centre there is a fine monolith, one of several known to have formerly stood there. Of the same type is the Giant's Ring, near Bel- fast; but the ring in this instance is made of earth and it is considerably larger in diameter (580 ft.), while the central object is a fine dolmen. It is more probable that such enclosures were used, like many of our modern churches, for the double purpose of burying the dead and addressing the living.

Dolmens. — In its simplest form a dolmen consists of three, four, or five stone supports, covered by one selected megalith called a capstone, or table. A well-known example of this kind in England is Kit's Coty House (see Plate), situated between Rochester and Maidstone, which is formed of three large sup- ports with a capstone measuring n by 8 ft. From this simple form there is an endless variety of structures till we reach the so-called Giant Graves and Grottes des Fies, which consist of numerous supports and several capstones. The dolmen of Bagneux, situated in the corner of a plantation on the outskirts of the town of Saumur, measures 18 metres in length, 6'So in breadth and 3 in height. It is constructed of huge flagstones, 4 on each side, and 4 capstones — the largest capstone measuring 7-50 metres in length, 7 in breadth and 1 in thickness. Another near Esse (Ille-et-Vilaine) called La Roche aux Fies, is con- structed of 30 supports and 8 capstones, including the vesti- bule. Dolmens of this kind are extremely rare in the British Isles, the only one comparable to them in form being Calliagh Birra's House near Monasterboice, Ireland, which consists of 4 capstones supported by 4 or 5 thin stones on edge to form each side, and one stone closing one end. Owing to its small size (12 ft. long by 4 wide) this monument is disappointing in appearance. These free standing megalithic chambers, generally I known as allies couvertes, as well as many other examples of the