by Richard L. Thornton, Architect & City Planner
During the surveys of the Alec Mountain Archaeological Zone near my house and the Batesville Archaeological Zone 5.5 miles miles to the north, I have observed numerous small stone rings, varying in diameter from 8 to 20 feet. We found three such rings in the base of the old volcanic crater of Lynch Mountain near Sautee. These seem too small to have been communal worship sites. There are at least two mountaintop stone circle in the region, which are 85 feet in diameter. These definitely functioned as observatories and communal worship sites.
Last night I watched a video, produced in Sweden, which described the history of Scandinavia, prior to the Viking Age. The program mentioned that the ancestors of the Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, Frisians, Angles, Saxons and Jutes . . . plus the Druids in Britain, worshiped ancient trees, generally oaks. The Nordic peoples, including the pagan Anglo-Saxons, considered such ancient trees as worship sites for Odin (Woden). They built circular stone walls out of field stones around these trees. Humans and animals were hung from the larger branches as sacrifices to Odin.
When Christian missionaries entered a pagan region of the Nordic peoples or Britain, they would usually cut down the sacred trees and scatter the stones. Most of the stone circles that survive today in Northern Europe consist of large rocks or partially carved, vertical stones, which could not be moved easily by the missionaries. . The remnants of a vertical carved stone circle still exist today in the Cohutta Mountains (Fannin County, GA).