Discover the legends, mysteries and amazing sights to be seen at Stonehenge and 6 more great stone circles of the UK.
Stone circles are some of the most ancient, mysterious and beautiful features of the British landscape. From the mighty stacked monoliths of Stonehenge to the edge-of-the-world standing stones of the Druid’s Circle, hundreds, great and small, and each with a unique character and ambience dot all corners of the British Isles. Many are over 5,000 years old and continue to safeguard the secrets of their construction and purpose. Here’s our guide to Stonehenge and the other great stone circles of the UK.
This ring of gigantic standing stones is one of Britain’s most iconic structures and perhaps the most recognisable Neolithic monument in the world. Constructed between 3,000 – 2,000 BC, the methods used to transport, arrange and erect the stones remain a mystery. The feats of engineering required are of such a magnitude for Stone Age peoples that some theories suggest the involvement of supernatural forces. Though little is known for sure about the original function of Stonehenge, many attach significance to the alignment of the structure with sunrise on the summer solstice and sunset on the winter solstice. Large crowds gather at the site to celebrate these two days each year. Stonehenge is a popular attraction so make sure you prebook tickets before you visit.
Ring of Brodgar, Orkney
The Ring of Brodgar stands on a strip of land that straddles two lochs on the largest of Scotland’s Orkney Islands. The 28 tall, slim stones that form the henge are believed to have stood since the 3rd millennium BC. Set against the lochs, wide skies and gentle contours of the distant hills beyond, the Ring of Brodgar is among the most picturesque stone circles in Britain. One of the most enduring mysteries of Brodgar is the question of why the site was suddenly abandoned 4,300 years ago – archaeological evidence has revealed that a huge feast was held at the site on the eve of its sudden fall into disuse. The Ring of Brodgar is one part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Heart of Neolith Orkney.
Rollright Stones, Oxfordshire
The Rollright Stones is the name given to a prehistoric site on the northern edge of the Cotswolds which consists of three monuments. The oldest is a burial chamber or ‘portal dolmen’ known as The Whispering Knights. Built around 3,800 BC, it is one of the oldest burial monuments in Britain. The stone circle ‘The King’s Men’ is formed of 77 closely arranged stones believed to have been set in place around 2,500 BC. The third of the three monuments is The King’s Stone, a standalone monolith erected in about 1,500 BC that gazes out from its vantage over a wide green Cotswold valley. The Rollright Stones are the subject of many myths and legends. According to one, the henge was once a king and his soldiers who were turned to stone by a witch.
The 40 standing stones of Castlerigg have crowned the summit of their hill in the Lake District for 5,000 years. Overlooked by a ring of higher peaks and with sweeping views that open out over the Thirlmere Valley, this is a site that combines Neolithic wonder with the awe-inspiring majesty of the Cumbrian landscape. Experts believe Castlerigg was constructed to stand in harmony with the midwinter sunrise and the orbit of the Moon. But as with all British stone circles, the exact details of its function and purpose remain shrouded in mystery.
Long Meg & Her Daughters, Cumbria
Maughanby Stone Circle, or, as it’s better known, Long Meg and Her Daughters, is one of the biggest stone circles in the UK. ‘Long Meg’ is the lone stone that stands outside of the circle. At 12 ft, she is the tallest of its monoliths, and it has been suggested she might have been positioned so as to cast her shadow over the others thereby giving the henge a sundial function. You’ll notice Meg is engraved with concentric circles and mysterious petroglyphs including one of a cup and a ring. According to one legend, Long Meg was once an evil witch who was turned to stone by a good wizard, Michael of Scotland. According to William Wordsworth, after Stonehenge, Long Meg and Her Daughters is “beyond dispute the most notable relic that this or probably any other country contains”.
Druid’s Circle, Penmaenmawr
What the Druid’s Circle lacks in scale it more than makes up for in ambience. The name is a misnomer, as the henge actually predates the druids by some 2,000 years. Be prepared to hike to reach it, and be prepared to enter a secluded site of otherworldly beauty once you do. The 30 stones that form the Druid’s Circle stand at an intersection of ancient trackways atop a chain of rugged hills on the North Welsh coast that overlook Conwy. They are thought to have been positioned in their lofty perch of isolation so as to create a celestial aura of detachment from the world below. It’s possible you’ll see more wild ponies there than other visitors.
Avebury is the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle. It was constructed over several centuries more than 5,000 years ago. The diameter of its henge is so huge that it encompasses one half of a village and, incredibly, is only one feature of a colossal ancient site that also includes barrows, two ceremonial avenues, an enormous conical mound and numerous other earthworks.
Where to Stay Near Stonehenge and the Other Great Stone Circles of the UK
Stonehenge Campsite and Glamping Pods is a multi-award-winning park is just a five minute drive from Stonehenge and not far from Avebury.
Holiday near Ullswater and the Cumbrian stone circles at Hillcroft, which is one of our top 100 rated parks.
Own a luxury holiday home on Craiglwyd Hall Caravan Park in North Wales just a short trip away from the Druid’s Circle.
The wonderful Anita's Caravan Park is near The Rollright Stones and has pitches for tents, tourers and motorhomes.
Base your trip to see the Ring of Brodgar at The Pickaquoy Centre Caravan Park on Orkney.
Find 1000s of other campsites, caravan parks and holiday lodges across the UK.