3.5 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
I have always found that the is something special about the ancient monuments that are still present in our modern landscape. They are, what some would call, thin places, where this world meets other realms and I find that they have a tranquillity about them that I don’t always find elsewhere.
The most famous stone circle is probably Stonehenge, but there are present in every county. Sadly Dorset has only two according to the book, A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany by Aubrey Burl, a book that I was fortunate to find in a charity shop and still have to read at some point. In Cumbria though, more stone circles there than in any other county, fifty according to the research that I have done. In this book, Stan Abbott visits twenty-nine of them on his new electric bike just as the country emerged from the lockdowns in 2021.
The book is a mix of travelogue and ancient history as he travels around the region searching for these circles. I gather from the text, that he visited some before, but there are others that are new to him. There is some personal speculation in the book about why these were built by neolithic peoples and why they were aligned in a particular way, but thankfully there is no outlandish ideas. He does take the easy solution though and put it down to ritual. Though what those were is anyone’s guess.
There were parts of this book that I really liked, but I did have a couple of issues with it. I liked the way he was concentrating on one part of the country seeking out these ancient stone circles and trying to think about the context in which they were built. He does not have any agenda either, which was refreshing. Instead, he is travelling just to see them and enjoy the moments spent there. He does speculate why they may have been built as well as look at the wider context with the monuments in Wiltshire and Orkney. I had a couple of issues though, I would have really liked to have photographs in this book of some or all of the places that he visited and I would like to have had a better map as the one at the front of the book is tiny!