Page images

tany; but there are numerous others, more or less perfect: in one of which, at Plobannalec, near Pont l'Abbé, the rectilinear system is again met with, consisting of lines of small chambers and menhirs intermixed. It is important to notice that in all instances these lines were connected with sepulchral remains, although in the more imperfect alignments these adjuncts are sometimes wanting.

While, then, one class of stone monument is so well represented in Brittany, and another (the circle) almost entirely wanting, the reverse seems to be the case in these islands, where the circles are the rule, and the alignments the exception; and even where they are found, they are so small, and, comparatively speaking, so insignificant (never exceeding two rows of stones, and more often consisting of a single one), that they bear the same relation to the large groups on the other side of the Channel as the most humble of our circles bear to Stonehenge and Avebury, and our more important monuments of this class. As there is no reason, however (as Mr. Stuart justly remarks in the addition to the Appendix to his magnificent volume lately issued), why the nature and use of the smallest circle should be considered different from that of the largest, so such humble alignments as we possess probably differ only in extent, and the number of lines, from the largest ones of Carnac.

There is another point which should be noticed. Excluding Avebury as sui generis, with the two sinuous lines diverging from the great circle, and its huge rampart of earth, we find some instances where avenues of stones are connected with circles.

This is particularly the case in Scotland, which within the last century had some very large ones, and still possesses some which deserve more notice than they seem to have attracted. One, indeed, is well known, namely that of Callernish in the Isle of Lewis, where two parallel lines of stones issue from a circle; from which also project three short single lines at the other three points of the compass. The whole monument thus gives the notion of a large

Latin cross with a central disc. From the position and character of the stones forming what would be the shaft of the cross, it is probable that they have never formed the sides of a covered gallery, although Mr. Stuart seems to think such may have been the case. Other instances are mentioned by that gentleman (p. xcv in Addition to Appendix) : thus at Brochwin, on the Clyth estate, in Caithness, at the base of a hill, the crest of which appears to have been fortified, more than one hundred stones radiate in lines from a central carn. At Canister is a similar group, also connected with a small carn. Other ex amples also occur, but where the last traces of carns have vanished. One of the largest is at Bruan, on the estate of Ulbster, consisting of four or five hundred pillarstones in parallel rows. Nor are such monuments wanting in other parts of Scotland. There was formerly in Balnabroch, in Strathhardle, a large carn surrounded by smaller ones and hut-circles. At the close of the last century an observer describes two parallel stone fences running southwards from the carn, upwards of one hundred yards. At a later period (1834) Mr. Skene of Rubishaw found it extending one hundred feet, and thirty-two broad; and from his sketch it appears that the line rau from two of the small carns to the large one. Maitland describes a stone monument at Inverury, in Aberdeenshire, as consisting of two distinct portions: the smaller lying to the south, surrounded by a ditch ; the larger being a small carn surrounded by three rows of standing stones. An avenue of such stones, two hundred yards long, led from the south to the lesser circle, and, crossing it, continued to the stone circles. (Hist. Scot., vol. i, p. 154.)

Sir James Simpson, in his British Archaic Sculpturings, one of the most valuable contributions of this century to the archæologist's library, mentions a group at Ballymenach in Argyleshire, which appears to be the remains of an alignment connected with a circle. Some of these have cups. Mr. Stuart speaks also of six large pillar-stones in the same neighbourhood, ranged three

and three, in parallel lines, with a seventh beyond them; but which would, if the lines were continued, stand midway between them. There are, however, in this instance, no carns or remains of any; but it may be fairly supposed that one or more did once exist.

As far, therefore, as Scotland is concerned, these avenues seem to have been uniformly connected with circles or carns, or, in other words, with sepulchral remains. As we come southwards, the only one known is the once celebrated avenue of Shap, which formerly consisted of a very long line of two rows of stones con• nected at one end with a circle. Only a few of the stones remain now of one of its sides, some of which are marked with those mysterious figures to which Sir James Simpson has drawn public attention. Whatever remained of the circle itself has been dislodged by the railway. About two miles, however, to the north is the fine double circle at Gunnerkild; and as the avenue is said to have been a mile in length in Camden's time, so before him it may have continued further northwards, and may even have been connected with the Gunnerkild circle: at any rate this remarkable avenue was certainly connected with one circle. On Dartmoor are traces of the same rectilinear system.

In Cornwall only one instance is known to Mr. Blight, This line consists only of nine stones, called “ The Nine Maidens.” They are near St. Colomb.

The short double row of stones on Mr. Harrison's land at Rockmount, in the Isle of Man, and which has been described in the Archæologia Cambrensis, is not, strictly speaking, an alignment or avenue. The stones have evidently formed the sides of a covered gallery under a tumulus which, with its chambers, has been removed. Mr. Harrison has promised to excavate where the chamber is supposed to have stood ; but the results of his exploration have not yet been ascertained.

If there are any avenues in Ireland, they have not, as far as we know, been noticed or published.

As regards Wales, although it still possesses no small

number of circles, cromlechs, and other similar early remains, such avenues or alignments are extremely rare. In Gower there is something approaching to them, as far as it seems to carry out the connection between sepulchral places, and what may be called the rectilinear system. Thus starting from the great cromlech called “Arthur's Quoit,” is a very long line of small mounds, placed at regular intervals from each other, and which have the appearance of remains of small carns. We are not aware that they have been examined ; if not, they should be, and if, as anticipated, they are found to be separate graves, we should have in Wales something not unlike the lines at Plobannalec, near Pont l'Abbé, already alluded to. In North Wales, however, is a remarkable example of a circle and avenue, unnoticed by Pennant and other writers. The description of it is kindly given by Miss Davies, of Penmaen Dovey, the daughter and representative of one of the most accomplished scholars and judicious antiquaries of Wales. It is situated between two streams, called Cwym-y-Rhewi and Avon-y-Disgynfa, looking down from a considerable elevation on the Vale of Mochnant, and two miles above the well-known waterfall of Pistill-y-Rhaiadr. It consists of a large circle of isolated stones, of which thirteen were remaining when Miss Davies last saw it, and an avenue of two rows still retaining thirty-nine, and many portions of others that had been broken up. In the centre of the circle is a deep hollow, the site, no doubt, of the sepulchral chamber. The name Rhos-y-beddau, or the graves on the moor, has rescued the monument from being claimed by the Druids. The avenue appears to lead directly into the circle, the breadth of it corresponding to the space between the two stones of the circle where the circle and avenue meet, but it is probable that a stone or two is wanting at this part of the circle.

The late Mr. Lloyd of Caerwys, the companion of Pennant in his Welsh wanderings, and the father of the late Angharad Lloyd, has left some notes of the stone

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »