CIRCLES AND STANDING STONES: An Illustrated Exploration of the Megalith Mysteries of Early Britain by Evan Hadingham

CIRCLES AND STANDING STONES: An Illustrated Exploration of the Megalith Mysteries of Early Britain

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Are the Druids about to be rediscovered? This is the second book in a month to feature the myth-shrouded pagan priesthood of pre-Christian Great Britain even though the Druids are not. exactly synonymous with the megalithic builders who dotted England, Ireland and Scotland with earthworks and concentric circles of standing stones. Indeed the ruined remains of these megalithic structures can be found all around the Atlantic perimeter of Europe from Denmark and Brittany to Spain and Malta. Hadingham even puzzles over the ""remarkably similar"" constructions found in India and Japan. Hadingham nonetheless emphasizes differences and unique features and takes a strong anti-diffusionist stand. Most of his book is devoted to a detailed examination of British sites: Newgrange, Maes Howe, West Kennet, the Orkneys, Avebury and, of course, Stonehenge. What were these strange clusters of stones decorated with intricate carvings, Bronze Age doodles and strangely abstract designs? Funereal chambers? Open-air temples? Secular meeting places? No one is quite sure; they show signs of having once functioned as all of the above. What is certain is that the ancient architects followed an elaborate lunar mathematics based on the winter and summer solstice and the eclipses of the sun and moon. The ""decoding"" of Stonehenge is a full-time archaeological occupation and unfortunately for the reader Hadingham spends a great deal of time in elaborate calculations of megalithic geometry which leave the layman stranded. Possibly the Druids were an astronomer priesthood; written sources from Greece and Rome would tend to indicate as much. Most important, however, radiocarbon dating has established that many of the megalithic tombs antedated Mycenean culture by as much as 2000 years--a computation which is currently bringing about a profound reassessment of the relationship of the Near East ""cradle of civilization"" to so-called ""barbarian"" Europe.

Pub Date: June 25th, 1975
Publisher: Walker