Notting Hill Gate
Geoffrey of Monmouth: Merlin and Stonehenge
12th century, Latin, manuscript copies at Cambridge University Library; Stadtbibliothek, Berne, Switzerland; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris | Last phase c. 2300 BC, Bronze Age stone circle, Salisbury Plain, southern England.
Merlin oversaw the transportation of the Giant's Ring onto Salisbury Plain from a place far to the west.
In Britain, standing stones and stone circles dating to the second or third millennium BC can be numbered in the hundreds. Examples include: Long Pierre on Guernsey, the Longstone on the Isle of Wight, Boscawen Un, the Merry Maidens and the Hurlers in Cornwall, a great prehistoric stone circle at Avebury, in Wiltshire, and perhaps the most famous of all: Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain, in southern England.
Stonehenge has a long history, beginning when Neolithic farmers built a wooden mortuary structure inside a large circular enclosure. Later on, in the third millennium BC, stones each weighing several tons were transported to the henge from the Preseli mountains in south Wales and incorporated into its architecture.
Legends of this feat of engineering skill must have trickled down to the twelfth century AD because Geoffrey of Monmouth, in his History of the Kings of Britain, describes Merlin overseeing the transportation of a stone circle called the 'Giant’s Ring' to Salisbury Plain from a place far to the west – Mount Killaraus in Ireland. These stones had healing properties. Merlin explains:
Many years ago the Giants transported them from the remotest confines of Africa and set them up in Ireland at a time when they inhabited that country… When the Britons heard this, they made up their minds to send for the stones and to make war on the people of Ireland if they tried to hold them back..