There is a British edition for UK readers since there is some variation between UK and US books. UK readers should note that many titles indicated as out of print on the US site are in fact still in print in the UK and listed on the UK site
Megaliths have attracted the attention of many writers, here is a run-down of many of the books I have read about the subject. I've started with the ones that I have found most rewarding. Some are old and therefore no longer available, but many are available through Amazon.com. Just click on the Amazon logo associated with a title and you can order your own copy right away! Note that jacket designs sometimes change with different editions - Amazon's copy will be the current picture.
By their very nature alternative views tend to be more colourful and varied than the 'establishment' archaeological texts. This bibliography is taken from across the whole spectrum of thought so you, dear reader, can draw your own conclusions. Listings are divided into the archaeological and descriptive books first, best for finding stones and knowing how to get to them. The next sections covers local knowledge - books which cover a small and specific area, usually written by local people with an excellent knowledge of their own region. These usually drawn on a wide range of local sources and often shown many more sites than books covering the whole country. They are an excellent read if you will be staying in the area for more than a day or so, often also covering local myths and legends. The next listing a titles covering alternative approaches from a range of viewpoints - from the popular author M Scott Peck with his lovely description of his passion for megalithic sites to whole new ways of interpreting the stones.
and usually the best guides to locating stones, though Julian Cope's The Modern Antiquarian has a very comprehensive illustrated guide making up the second half of the book
Lavishly illustrated book with top quality photography of the stones at different times of the day and seasons. More of a photo book of the top sites than a comprehensive gazetteer or overall guide ot the archaeology, though Aubrey Burl contributes his own insights in the introduction and some of the short descriptions of the sites.
Excellent little guide to all the stone circles - if you are looking for standing stones, dolmens or rows then you won't find them here. Selective it may be, but this is top class little guide book, striking the right balance between useful details of how to get to the circles on the ground, background info and archaeological snippets. Buy it! if you're looking for sites on the ground - it will save you lots of time!
Good all-rounder with a
more detailed treatment than Rings of Stone. Unusually for Aubrey Burl, this one book
covers standing stones, circles and rows. Well illustrated with black and white
photographs and diagrams.
Readable and detailed treatise on the subject of stone circles, and a standard work. It isn't designed as a gazetteer - the way he hops around the British Isles can be distracting in the field (Burl's A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany is an excellent gazetteer). If it is understanding and comparison of the different constructional styles you can't beat this one for the depth of his analysis while staying sensitive to the subject.
A fine description of the mystery that is Avebury -
an entire village encompassed by a megalithic ring.
Aubrey Burl, Frances Lincoln/Book Club Associates, 1979
Nicely written for the intelligent layman, this is a good all-round introduction to what stone circles are all about. Mainly about stone circles...
Caroline Malone, English Heritage, London, 1990, ISBN 1 85074 253 7
Michael Balfour, Dragon's World, ISBN 1-85028-163-7
A sumptuously illustrated coffee table book, this shows how standing stones should be photographed to great effect. I love it - and with it's economical text it never has to come off the fence as far as any interpretation of who or why - the stones are left to speak for themselves... It is eclectic rather than exhaustive - covering Europe in one volume much is left out. I would love to have the author's travel budget :-)
Geoffrey Wainwright, Thames & Hudson, 1989
Dr Wainwright excavated several of the henge monuments between 1966 and 1971 - to him is attributed the discovery that many of these once held massive wooden structures (derived from the post-holes left behind as the wood rotted away). These evocative structures help us place the stone circles in better context, and perhaps may explain some of the woodworking techniques (such as the mortice and tenon joints at Stonehenge) executed in stone at Stonehenge
Stonehenge is unique enough to deserve its own section, and these books take Stonehenge as the main theme.
David Souden,published by Collins & Brown in association with English Heritage 1997, ISBN 1-85585 291 8
One of the best general introductions to what Stonehenge is and the stages
of its construction, Souden also covers the wealth of remains in the immediate area. Well
illustrated with photographs and drawings with an easy writing style.
An archaeologist of the old school with zero tolerance for the alternative and the fringe, delivering himself of the immortal quote "Much of what has been written about Stonehenge is derivative, second-rate or plain wrong.". Chippindale still comes up with a highly readable though one-sided look both at the history of Stonehenge - and the history of the history of Stonehenge from Inigo Jones' Roman theorising to the latest alternative fringe. I'd like to have seen a bit more about Stonehenge itself and a little less of the history of the history, but recommended for scholars of Stonehenge nevertheless.
As the sub-title suggests, John North's emphasis is
on astronomical alignments. The subject gets a competent and scholarly approach which is
rare in the field of archaeoastronomy, but North's writing remains approachable and
understandable by the intelligent layman. Highly recommended for those interested in
astronomical alignments of megalithic structure, this book comers the subject in
fascinating depth. I find myself not entirely convinced of some of his hypotheses, but
they are well-argued, and his argument for a winter solstice sunset alignment rather than
the opposite popularly known midsummer solstice sunrise alignment is very convincing.
Rodney Castleden, Routledge, 1993, ISBN 0-415-08513-6
A good read and a thorough description of the archaeology of Stonehenge and its
environs. The perspective also covers much more about the people who made Stonehenge and
what we can infer about them, which adds colour to the archaeology. Unlike the colour
added by conjecture and speculation, however, this author draws on the academic studies
and theorems of modern archaeology. Readable but still authentic - a good combination for
those who want more than the Stonehenge guidebook.
This scientific reference is not written with the layman in mind, but it has to be a
definitive reference for scholars researching Stonehenge. It is a collection of papers
presented at the Royal Society symposium "Science and Stonehenge" 20-21 March
1996. As such it the contents are not always honed to be easy for the layman reader. As a
goldmine of raw studies, data, fieldwork and cutting-edge theory it is excellent.
Some of the data helped me develop the computer modelling used for the "Stonehenge past" illustrations on this web-site
The late Professor Atkinson contributed much to the archaeology of Stonehenge with his careful fieldwork and thorough interpretation. This is his take on the subject!
RJC Atkinson, English Heritage, 1987 rep 1993, ISBN 1 85074 172 7
You can't beat this English Heritage guidebook which is available from the Stonehenge shop for value, and as a quick introduction to the essential points of Stonehenge the easily readable text and excellent illustrations this is a must-have for the visitor to the site.
It really is best to have got it and at least glance through it before you visit Stonehenge - so much more of what you see will make sense in the light of the knowledge. Tragically the shop on site is arranged so that most people will check it out after they have seen the Stones.
The late Professor Atkinson was closely involved with Stonehenge and contributed greatly to what is known about the monument as a result of his careful fieldwork and study spanning many years, and thorough knowledge of prior work.
Local knowledge adds detail and coherency to some of these descriptions from people living in the area of their local megalithic sites.
Gerald & Margaret Ponting, Rev 1993 Margaret Curtis & Ron Curtis ISBN 0 9505998 9 1
A delightful little booklet written by a couple who upped and left the flatness of East Anglian Suffolk to live on the Isle of Lewis. Though the typesetting and reproduction is execrable - soot'n'whitewash photos and ragged dot-matrix printing from an old BBC 8-bit micro in the best underground 'zine tradition, this nevertheless is a mine of information about the Callanish megaliths written with impeccable local knowledge.
Written from a generally archaeological viewpoint, astronomical alignments also feature extensively in the analysis.
Detailed book on the stone circles of Cumbria
written from a thorough archaeological background, with many plans of the sites as well as
information on how to get to the circles. Many days of hill-walking to be had here!
Peter Knight, Power Publications, 1996, ISBN 1 898073 12 0
Peter Knight's style at times ventures on the 'alternative evangelical' and I can find
no excuse for the dreadful self-penned poem at the beginning of the book. Nevertheless the
author has come up with a very comprehensive description of standing stones and sites in
Dorset, interspersed with extra snippets of historical information, and many details of
ley lines, plans and sketches.
Well illustrated book with a lot of local knowledge,
this book is in two parts - a gently alternative overview of the various types of
megaliths. Plenty of examples are drawn from all over Wales, and the second half of the
book is a comprehensive gazetteer of Welsh megalithic sites.
Cheryl Straffon, Meyn Mamvro Publications, ISBN 0 9518859 0 1
Nice little guide to the stones at the extreme end of Cornwall. in the Penzance region
Well known writer M Scott Peck (The Road Less Travelled) also had a bit of a thing about standing stones. Not only is this a good read about an American couple puzzled by the quaint otherness of British ways, but it gives a good feel for what makes megaliths special to some of us.
Julian Cope brings his own unique perspective to
prehistory in the first part, which is not totally convincing to me, but his gazetteer and
pictures in the second part of the book is the most comprehensive illustrated print
version I have come across and makes this book well worth it!
A review of the results of the late Seventies/eighties project "The Dragon Project" which looked for physical evidence of earth energies. Though some have described this as showing a null result there seems to be enough measurable and unusual to warrant further study. Being aimed at a general readership, the emphasis is on interpretation rather than peer review, so there is not enough detail to reproduce the measurements...