Standing Stones of Britain

The Standing Stones of Ancient Britain with an emphasis on Wales

Dr Ron Callender FRPS

The group assembled on 20th May, via Zoom to hear Dr Callender deliver an interesting talk, combining archaeology and photography, on the topic of standing stones. Dr Callender spent much of his career as a research scientist and is a keen photographer and his skills were very much in evidence during his presentation. He aimed to increase our understanding of how and why the stones were built and to examine some of the sites in Wales.

As an introduction Dr Callender explained that his interest in standing stones began when he lived on Salisbury Plain and often visited Stonehenge. We were shown slides of Stonehenge and the Megalith Map. He then went on to discuss the different types of standing stones and examples of them from different parts of the British Isles. These included recumbent stones, sloping stones and the reclining stones found in Derbyshire. Many stones are solitary and may have been used for message or decoration. Stone circles such as those found in Swinside, Cumbria and the Isle of Man were shown and discussed with reference to their form and possible function.

The speaker then described his photographic approach before turning to focus on standing stones in Wales. There are several standing stones above Penmaenmawr, the reason for their existence is not known but possibly they were beacons or direction stones. The importance of sites on the Llyn peninsula was emphasised, for example Sarn Meyllyeryrn. Several important examples from Ynys Mon (Anglesey) were given and fascinating photos of the Bryn Celli Ddu burial chamber and associated stones were shown. Dr Callender also discussed the burial chamber stones at Plas Newydd, the two stones on Holy Island, the 4,000-year-old Lligwy Burial chamber (Siamber Gladdu Lligwy) and Din Lligwy. The circle of stones known as Barclodiad Gawres may have been used for religious ceremonies.

The talk ended with Dr Callender throwing light on why stones are erected after Eisteddfods. He described them as a modern tribute to standing stones of antiquity. An interesting talk and we are very grateful to Dr Callender for giving up his time (again!) to shed light on a subject of great interest to those who live in North Wales and walk or drive past these wonderful objects on a daily basis.

Also, we expressed our thanks to Paul Warsaw for creating the video with Dr Ron Callender.

Diane Williams

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