Most of us are very familiar with the ancient standing-stones formation known as Stonehenge. But perhaps many will be surprised to learn that throughout Britain there are or have been hundreds of these circular structures. In one Scottish county alone, Aberdeenshire, there are about seventy remains of these ancient sites! Many of the circles used tobe of wood, though obviously the material could not survive the decaying effects of the centuries. A few of these wooden circles have been recreated from soil stains which were made by the wooden posts that used to stand there, so now we have a Woodhenge within sight of the more well-known Stonehenge.
One day I came across a quotation from an old Roman writer (Tacitus in his book Agricola) which said the following about Celtic tribes —
The [sacred] grove is the center of their whole religion, regarded as the cradle of the race and the dwelling-place of the supreme god to whom all things are subject and obedient.
That sentence made me wonder if symbolically the circles (the wooden ones especially) represented an original grove where the first people had met with their god. But that was just speculation, and what was needed was some scientific basis to it or to any theory about the circles. So I went back to the book Before Scotland, mentioned in earlier blogs, and its claim that, according to DNA studies, 80 per cent of modern Brits are descended from ancient hunter-gather-fishers who came to the British Isles many thousands of years ago. It certainly begged a question — “What about the other 20 percent?”
The book’s author Alistair Moffat is very emphatic that most of the 20 percent had their origins in (of all places) Mesopotamia. These ancient people (not the much later Arabs and Kurds who live there now) arrived in Britain not long after 4,000 B.C. and introduced there the practice of agriculture — they were farmers, shepherds, gardeners. Gradually, these early settlers transformed the whole culture, including for the first time in Britain the building of large monuments of wood and stone — presumably the now famous circles.
These early immigrants with Middle-Eastern DNA brought with them many ideas from the ancient Middle-East. Among these ideas would perhaps, like the Celts, be the notion to use monuments as reminders of the origins of the race, that is, of a very ancient grove or garden. Indeed, we know that such a story of origins appeared in the ancient Middle-East. What’s more, many of Britain’s stone circles, especially in Aberdeenshire, contain two tall upright stones within the edge of the circle (see photo above).
Two tall stones within the place of origins? Put there by people familiar with Middle-Eastern legend? Could these two stones possibly represent the two special trees in the Garden of Eden? Hmm. I couldn’t help but follow the thread. The DNA evidence about the 20 per cent appeared to lead to interesting possibilities, and now it will have be researched further by experts in the field.