Standing Stones

Standing stones are better known as liths, or orthostats. They are known as megaliths due to their cumbersome size. These stones are always set in the solitary position. They are placed vertically in ground. Numerous varieties exist. If they come into view in groups, forming a circle, ‘megalithic monuments’ is the name given to them. There is no information regarding the origin of standing stones. However, some traces of pottery suggest that they belonged to the ‘Beaker People’.


The term ‘cove’ is used in describing a group of tightly concentrated standing stones that were found in Bronze and Neolithic Age in England. Coves have a rectangular or square plan. They act as tiny enclosures within further avenue, stone circle, or henge features. Here, 3 or 4 orthostats are placed together giving impression of box. The stone shave an opening between them. The orientation of these stones is towards southeast. The examples of coves include ‘The Longstones in Wiltshire’, ‘Avebury Henge in Wiltshire’, ‘Stanton Drew in Somerset’, and ‘Mount Pleasant henge in Dorset’.


Standing stones like Menhirs technically fall in the category of orthostats though this term is exclusively used by archaeologists for describing individual stones of prehistoric era that comprise of bigger structures. Examples of such sort include walls of ‘chamber tombs’, verticalities of trilithons at ‘Stonehenge’. Megalithic art is being depicted by most of the orthostats.

Pole-hole slab

Pole-hole slab, in megalithic archaeology, is referred to as an orthostat having a hole. At times, it looks like entrance to the ‘chamber tomb’. The hole normally has a circular shape. However, there are examples of square shapes as well. These shapes arise due to the joining of two slabs with notch cut into the joining. Such slabs are commonly found in ‘gallery graves’ of ‘Seine-Oise-Marne’ culture.


A trilithon can be described as a structure that consists of 2 big vertical stones. These stones are supported by a 3rd stone set. This set is supported horizontally on the top. The trilithons at Stonehenge and in prehistoric temples of Malta have acquired an international acclaim. They have been included in ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’. The derivation of the word ‘trilithon’ comes from the ‘Greek’. Tri-three and lithos-stone, i.e. ‘having three stones’. William Stukeley was the first one to use this word.

Stone Circle

A ‘stone circle’ can be described as an antique monument. Monument of such sort is not necessarily circular. An elliptical pattern is normally formed. Many a times, the stones are laid in such a way that a circular arc is formed. One should not get confused between an isolated monolith or a henge and the stone circle, even if the encounter of all these features takes place in a ‘single location’. As per the archaeological survey, stone circles were constructed with a sole purpose of connecting with the beliefs of ‘prehistoric people’.

Stone Ship

The ‘Stone Ship’ can be referred to as a ‘Germanic burial custom’. They were known as devil ships previously, as they were believed to have witnessed the real burning ship wherein the dead used to be thrown into the sea.

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