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The mysterious standing stones and stone circles of the British Isles are the remains of a culture that existed some 4,000 years ago. The photographs on this page show a selection of the many hundreds that exist, often in remote and desolate places, throughout the country. Archaeologists associate the sites with the Neolithic (late Stone Age) and early Bronze Age periods, but the question of their purpose remains largely unresolved.
I have photographed more than 300 sites and I find that I am impressed by each one. I am excited not just by the technological feat of construction but by the presence in the landscape of those strong and beautiful stones. They seem to act as a focal point in the landscape bringing together the sky, the horizon and the land. Perhaps it was the use of the stones for astronomical observations that explains their seemingly precise positions in the landscape. Many of these sites are found on wild moors and lonely mountainsides, usually with a wide vista to the horizon. The lichen growth on the stones and their weathered shapes give them a timeless appearance, blending with their surroundings yet retaining a powerful presence. To me, they represent works of art that are fitting to their environment; they do not impose upon nature but co-exist with it. They are works of art not only because they are beautiful forms but because they direct and extend our vision beyond themselves. Every stone has its own character formed by the elements, the wind, the rain, storms and sun.
These photographs are my portraits of the stones.
I should like to thank the following people and organisations who helped and encouraged me during those years of travelling the length and breadth of England, Wales and Scotland.
- The Leverhulme Trust for a grant to help pay for travel
- Sarah Eckersley, who travelled with me to most of the sites.
- The late Professor Alexander Thom of Dunlop
- The Kenneil family at Ardpatrick for many voyages on board ‘Deli’,the Danish ketch, out to the islands of Western Scotland.
- Richard Demarco, who’s incredible enthusiasm for the ancient sites gave me great encouragement.
- Elise Meyer, who exhibited my photographs during one of her founding exhibitions at the Elise Meyer Gallery, New York.
- My artist friends and mentors; Robert Janz and Adolpho Estrada