‘In the 3rd and early 2nd millennia BC a remarkable series of circular monuments was built across Britain, comprising varying combinations of earthwork banks and ditches, timber posts and standing stones. Although archaeologists have traditionally classified these monuments into different categories of henges, stone circles and timber circles, the types cannot always be clearly differentiated and may occur as components of the same site; it seems to be their shared circular form that is most significant.They represent a new type of arena for ritual practices and social gatherings’ (Last 2011).
The recent construction of megalithic monuments, in particular stone circles, within Britain can be traced back to the development of the modern Druidic movement. The antiquarian John Aubrey, who suggested in 1659 that the stone circles at Avebury and Stonehenge had been built by the Celts as druidic temples. The Irish author, J. J. Toland, held a meeting for druids at Primrose Hill, London in 1717 and established The Ancient Druid Order and later Iolo Morganwg (1747-1826) became the creator and father of the Gorsedd of the Bards of the Isle of Britain. This is a society of poets, writers, musicians, artists and individuals who have made a notable contribution to the nation, its language and culture. The first ever meeting of Gorsedd was held on midsummer’s day, 21 June, 1792, on Primrose Hill, London with a special stone circle constructed.
The Ancient Druidic Order and the Gorsedd eventually joined forces and this tradition of stone circle construction continued on and off until the present day, sometimes using natural stone formations, as below, but often erecting stone circles. The site at Pontypridd (below) later became the site of activities by William Price.
In 1899 a formal plan for future stone circles was produced. Until recently Gorsedd were constructed at each annual meeting (the Eisteddfod) with the result that there are numerous recent stone circle across Wales and further afield (as far as Hungary and Patagonia).
Since 2004 however the stone circle has become a more portable stone circle made of fibreglass that is erected at each new venue to a proscribed plan.
There are other great examples of recent stone circles – see our page on the Glastonbury Festival Swan Circle
Details on the Gorsedd http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/gorsedd/introduction/