a prehistoric site

There are stone rows and stone circles throughout the British Isles. One of these is found just off the western coast of Scotland near the northern tip of the Isle of Mull. This ancient stone formation is located on the road to Tobermory far up a hillside near the intersection called Ardnacross. Today only one stone still stands in what was once a double row of megaliths. Our task was to discover how the stones had been oriented when they were erected, and to discover, if we could, why the end stones of each had later been toppled and deliberately buried while the center stone was left.

The lone standing stone The south row, pictured at left, had been excavated the previous year. Notice the two end stones, one in the foreground, the other beyond the center stone, almost completely buried. The small stones around the base of the lone standing stone were placed there by the team to try to prop it up. The field is used by sheep and cattle who have a habit of rubbing up against it.
The team listens to one of the principal investigators, Dr. Roger Martlew, describe the partially excavated north row. The far stone once stood on the end of the row. Notice how deep in the earth it is compared to the near stone which stood in the center. It was not purposely toppled but fell on its own in the relatively recent past. The small stones near its base were placed there when it was erected in antiquity. The north row
North row end stone This (left) is the other end stone of the north row. The several small stones near the foreground comprise a separate feature. They appeared to be a burial cyst. Near the bottom we found what might be the remains of a cremation burial and a highly oxidized incised bracelet, the only undisputed artifact found on the entire site.
By locating the original base holes of the toppled stones we did determine the approximate orientation of the stones. Although in the excavation we could see the shape of the holes dug by the topplers, we found no clue as to why the stones were toppled. What do you think?


Visit these web sites to see more pictures of standing stones in the British Isles and other stone monuments around the world:

Clive Ruggles

Dr. Clive Ruggles, the other Principal Investigator on this project, has a fascinating collection of megalithic monument photos from around the world.

Stone Pages

Paola Arosio & Diego Meozzi have a very nice Stone Pages site.

The Megalithic Portal

Visit Andy Burnham's Megalithic Portal, including Megalithic Mysteries and the Megalith Map, and enter a vast world of megalithic monuments.

Lunar Sites Scotland has interesting information on the alignments at Ardnacross and mentions this excavation.

The North Mull Project

For even more information about the excavation you can read the 1993 paper by Martlew and Ruggles here.


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