The Megalithic Yard: A Consequence of Circumferential Distribution?

The Nine Ladies Circle
The Nine Ladies Circle, Derbyshire.

“If the megalithic yard is indeed a real unit of measurement, then a suitable explanation for its existence has yet to be found.”
A. Davis (1983)


The focus of current archaeological study of stone circle perimeters tends to lie mainly in astronomy, the view that certain stones on perimeters might coincide with topographical features to indicate solar or lunar alignments, but this focus on an astronomical axis appears to have overshadowed consideration of the potential significance of the positioning of the remaining orthostats.

A study of over 300 rings concludes that there is evidence to suggest that the placing of orthostats on the perimeters of stone circles may well have been subject to measure. Furthermore, the apparent unit of measure on perimeters seems not to be the Megalithic Yard, but could have a π relationship with it.

This is to suggest that it is the presence of a unit on perimeters that results in the Megalithic Yard appearing on diameters, and it would seem that a length of one Megalithic Yard on a diameter might generate sixteen perimetric units on the circumference.

The question then arises as to whether or not the Megalithic Yard actually existed as a physical unit in its own right. There appears to be some evidence that it did, and the suggestion is that the megalith builders may have operated a bi-metric (dual unit) system such that there would be as many diametric units on the diameter as there are perimetric units on the circumference. This would facilitate the calculation of perimeters at non-circular rings were these pure geometrical constructions. Thus, the question of design may be closely related to that of the unit of measure.

Thus, might it be possible that analysis of the distribution of orthostats on the perimeters of stone circles could shed light on the appearance of the Megalithic Yard in Alexander Thom’s sample diameters?

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