Fugitive monuments and animal pathways: explaining the stone settings of Exmoor
journal contributionposted on 20.05.2015, 09:24 by Mark Gillings
As a result of the exclusive use of extremely small megaliths (miniliths) the prehistoric stone settings of Exmoor, SW England, challenge current approaches to the interpretation of monumental stone architecture during the later Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Whilst the broader context of the practice of erecting tiny upright stones (a seemingly diverse and widespread phenomenon) and the reasons why this diminutive architecture has tended to escape sustained critical comment have been explored (smaller stone elements being relegated to a generalised background or subsidiary role such as ‘packing’), attempts to explain the settings have been remarkably few. Drawing upon the results of ten years of piecemeal fieldwork on the moor the present paper seeks to rectify this, arguing that far from generalised ritual structures or metaphorical expressions of hunting groups, the tiny stones were instead an integral part of a dynamic human-animal landscape of movement and pause.