Early culture

Perhaps the most familiar image of Britain is the stone ring known as Stonehenge. Many claim that Stonehenge deserves to be regarded as one of the wonders of the world. It remains surrounded by mystery as it is still unknown how it could have been built four or five thousand years ago.

How were these stones transported and erected four or five thousand years ago?

However, Stonehenge is just one of many Neolithic stone circle sites that can still be seen in the British Isles. Another impressive example is the Ring of Brodgar on the Orkney Islands.

Dounby Show 2005
There are thousands of these standing stone sites in Britain

What was it like to actually be alive five thousand years ago? Tourists can visit a real Neolithic village at Skara Brae in the Orkney Islands in the north of Scotland and feel what life was like there at a time even before Stonehenge was built.

The Orkney Islands are a long way north

The settlements seem quite nice and it appears that life was not so bad for the  Neolithic British. They even had little ornaments or accessories!

These seem to have had some decorative purpose

However, as the climate changed, it became more difficult to survive in the far north of Scotland and the settlement was abandoned. Presumably, the locals moved to the mainland where it was a bit warmer. The settlement was covered over in time and  was rediscovered in 1850 after a huge storm uncovered part of the site.

Quite a comfortable and cultured little village

Also older than Stonehenge is the Newgrange monument in Ireland. No one actually knows what it was for, but it seems to have had some religious or magical significance. It probably had some ceremonial uses connected with the winter solstice.

Newgrange in Ireland is lined up with the sun to flood with light on the winter solstice. Why?
What was the significance of the mysterious artwork inside the Newgrange monument?

It seems that the ancients were focused on honoring their ancestors in connection with seasonal ceremonies involving the sun and the use of magical symbols.

Similar artwork and winter solstice connection at Bryn Celli Ddu in Wales

Slightly less mysterious and magical, perhaps, but still impressive, are the dolmen (prehistoric tombs) that are found all over Britain. Very often, you can discover these accidentally by just walking into a field.

Ancient burial chamber at Pentre Ifan in Wales