A monolith is a geological feature consisting of onemassive stone. This stone can also be moved to beplaced in a monument or by itself. A megalith is a largestone that has been used to create a monumentalstructure. It can be unaltered or altered by man.Stonehenge is made of monoliths and is considered amegalithicStructure.
Known Monolithic Stones and Megalithic Structures• Long Meg and her daughters• Stonehenge• Ring of Brodgar• Adam and Eve longstones• Rudstone
Long Meg and her daughtersThis is the third largest stone circle in England that datesfrom the Bronze Age. An 18th century legend says thatMeg and her daughters were witches and were turnedinto stone by a wizard or saint. However, researchsuggests that because the carvings on Long Meg faceaway from the circle, it was placed there before the“daughters” were.
StonehengeA stone circle dating from around 3100 BC consisting of bluestone, Sarsen, andWelsh sandstone. It is made up of trilithons in the center circle and continuoususe of lintels on the outer circle. Most lintels are now missing. There is onelarge outlier stone known as the Hele/Heel stone that marks the rising of thesun on the summer solstice (June 21)
Ring of BrodgarLocated in Orkney, Ireland, the Ring of Brodgar is a stone circle that isestimated to be from around 2300 BC. The actual date is not known for certainbecause the inner area of the circle still remains to be excavated. The height ofthe stones ranges from 7 to 15 feet tall. The stones appear to be of differenttypes of red sandstone.
Adam and Eve LongstonesThe larger stone “Adam” is thought to have been a part of a stone cove while“Eve” was one of the first stones of what was called Beckhampton Avenue.From the findings of archaeologists, the now non-existant enclosure is thoughtto have been built around 2700-2900 BC. This is also thought to be the date ofthe creation of the avenue and cove.
RudstoneUnlike all other monoliths, Rudstone is located in a cemetery. It is the largest standingmonolith in England at almost 26 feet tall and is made of gritstone. Gritstone was used inEngland as grinding stones to sharpen weapons. The churchyard that it is located in isabout 3000 years younger than the stone. The top looks odd because a lead cap was putthere to keep the tip from further eroding.
The understood main purpose behind monolith andmegalithic structures and monuments is usually ritual or religiousbased. Because most structures are Neolithic it is not knownwhat the ritual that took place there was. Most were probablyseasonally based, focusing on the winter and summer solstices.Because they have been standing for so long, the practices thattake place there have changed throughout time. For example, itis thought that Stonehenge was once a sacred burial groundbecause human bones were found in the surrounding area.However, later on the Druids used it as a place to perform ritualscelebrating the summer solstice and sometimes human sacrifice.Overall, they were most likely created for religious purposes.