The Temples of Albion: An Exploration of the Purpose behind Stone Circles by Daniel Johnston
Dan was kind enough to send me a copy of this to review:
"Stonehenge Unhinged was an attempt to demonstrate how its builders may have used the Aubrey Circle from the time of the early monument as a calendar for marking the solstices and equinoxes as well as the traditional Celtic holidays. The Temples of Albion An Exploration of the Purpose behind Stone Circles is an effort to put the achievements at Stonehenge into perspective, not as a stand-alone calendar, but as the final act in an ongoing Great Stone Circle Race lasting hundreds of years. In the process, stone circles like Long Meg and Her Daughters, Avebury, the Grey Wethers, Castlerigg, the Hurlers and Swinside are all examined and their connections through time surveyed in such a way that the mystery of why stone circles were built falls before a cascade of connections and coincidence.
Suddenly, the problems of the number of stones at various sites, circles of all shapes and sizes and possible astronomical alignments all tumble before a simple, logical progression showing the gradual development of new circle technologies all groping towards the ultimate goal of The Calendar, realized at Stonehenge. Along the way, the capabilities and aspirations of the Neolithic minds behind the circles are examined. The evidence presented reveals these "howling barbarians" were far more capable and astute than currently recognized, pursuing an elusive goal for centuries and transmitting their knowledge, as it accumulated, to future generations. The result is a simple, logical and compelling story of regional competition and dissemination of new ideas, via trade, throughout the British Isles.
This is a journey of exploration which, as a result of new ideas, provides unanticipated insights into questions which have puzzled antiquarians and archeologists for centuries. Why were two of the largest circles in Britain built at Avebury? Why does Castlerigg have an enigmatic rectangle of stones in its interior? What is the meaning behind the deformed Celtic Cross which is Callanish? All these mysteries and many more are addressed and, suddenly, are no longer head-scratchers but perfectly sensible and functional expressions of purpose. Anyone who is fascinated by Stonehenge and all the other enigmatic stone circles of Britain will find this enthralling account of circle development not only credible but also an Occam’s razor which slices through the muddle which is our current lack of understanding. 123 Illustrations."
I found it fascinating, it is so full of interesting points that I have only managed to skim over the surface, it is something I will go back to and read at leisure. Even if you reject his theory completely it is well worth reading. If, like me, you are not yet a convert then it is an argument that has to be considered. But even ignoring the theory it is a rich read with quotes and background and stories that make it a joy to read.
My Amazon review:
This is an extraordinary follow up to Stonehenge Unhinged The Wheel of the Sun. It provides a tour of stone circles where the author brings his knowledge, and apposite quotes, to both describe the circles but also to argue his theory of their numerical application in the construction of calenders.
I'm not completely convinced but am not quite sure why not. Maybe I have read it too quickly when otherwise distracted, maybe I need a printed copy I can scribble in. But I really enjoyed reading it,and will continue to return to it both to absorb the atmosphere of the places he brings to life but also to tease out the argument and further consider it.
Anyone interested in Stonehenge and other ancient stone circles should have it on their bookshelf.