The Secret Histories of Scotland's Ancient Burial Grounds

by Marcella Haddad on April 29, 2015

Rings of mysterious stones in perfect circles are scattered across Scotland. What do they mean? Where do they come from? So far, historians have hypothesized possible explanations that, in my opinion, fail to account for the richness and diversity of ancient cultures. The possibility that these stone circles and mounds were simply used for burial grounds is a simplistic answer. I would like to propose alternative histories for this strange stone phenomenon.

Celebrity Look-alike Contests

Clearly, the setup of large stones in a circle around a raised mound is a perfect place for judging such contests. Back then, Bronze Age peoples would bring large stones from their hometowns that they believed most resembled celebrities such as “Boog the Destroyer” of “Gug of the Large Forehead.” The celebrity in question would stand in the center, while the stones were placed around them, making it easy for the judges to compare the two. This theory relies on the idea that back then, either rocks looked like people, or people looked like rocks. The latter is more plausible.

Units of Measurement

Before numbers were invented, there was still the need to convey height and width. Stone circles, comprised of rocks of different shapes and sizes and placed in a central area, could afford a universal basis for comparison, and allow people to communicate as effectively as they do today.

“How tall is your son Moog now?”

“He is big stone tall.”

“Ah, yes, big stone—very tall.”

Very Short Games of Hide-and-Seek

Since closets and corners had not been created during the time of Ancient tribes, rocks were the only option for hiding places. The seeker would stand in the center of the stones while the others hid behind the rocks. The seeker would then open their eyes and guess which stones their friends were hiding behind. If enough people played, they would guess right every time.

Pet Shows

Since domestic animals were not common 4,000 years ago, children were used as sources of pride and entertainment. Parents could train them to run in between and around the stones in races. However, this is not as likely, since back then, children were expensive and often died if you forgot to take care of them, much like modern pets.

Wi-Fi Routers

Although wifi did not exist, DiPo (Divine Power) did. The stones were placed around a central point through which the chosen deity communicated. Ancient villagers would observe the stones and receive the heavenly messages inscribed on them. Evidence for this theory is found in scrolls recounting echoing voices in the sky shouting things like:

“Worship Gorgamat now for the low low price of only three sacrifices a month—crop predictions are free!”

“Switch to the goddess Sorazel and receive weather omens in addition to sheep blessings! Terms and conditions apply. First-born children are forfeit.”

Despite these ancient advertisements, it is unlikely that any villages switched their allegiances to their deity. It was a long, bloody, violent process that tested the very limits of their humanity, much like modern day customer service calls.

As you can see by the alternatives outlined above, “burial grounds” or “places of worship” are narrow-minded definitions for these important centers of culture, community, and communication. We cannot forget that ancient civilizations lived lives as rich and complex as ours, experiencing many spiritual experiences with nature, though with very few sanitary toilets. Perhaps we should consider putting down our phones every once in a while and picking up some heavy stones.