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Title: Stoplesteinan  
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Subject: Archaeological sites in Norway, Stone circle (Iron Age), Egersund
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Stoplesteinan in Egersund
Stoplesteinan (also known as Stoplesteinane) is a stone circle in the town of Egersund, Rogaland in Norway. The local people often refer to it as a Stonehenge in miniature, although the only thing the two stone rings have in common is that they both are made of stone positioned in a circular manner. The monument has a diameter of about 21 meters (69 feet) and consists of 16 raised stones. Some of the stones are up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) tall. The name probably originates from the word 'stopla', which can mean to stack or lay up. The old travellers road, 'St. Olafs vei' between Egersund and Sokndal, goes right by the Stoplesteinan. It is visible as a green strip in the vegetation just next to the stone circle. Recently an information sign has been erected some 10 to 20 meters (30–60 feet) south-east of Stoplesteinan, with support from EU's regional development funds - the INTERREG IIC-program for the North sea.

Origin and Theories

It is not known how or why the stone circle was constructed. According to local folklore, Stoplesteinan is an old Thing from the Viking era, which would place its construction between 800 and 1000 AD. Others theorize that the stones are a monument built over a burial ground.

Similar stone monuments exist in Norway and Northern Europe. Some of these have been excavated, and were found to be graves dating from the end of the bronze age until the end of the early iron age, dated to between 500 BC to 600 AD in Scandinavia. Whether the Stoplesteinan site was used for burials is not known, however it is not unlikely that a burial monument from the Bronze Age or early Iron Age could also be used as a Thing during the Viking era.

An excavation during the 1930s found that the ground in the circle's center is paved with stones. Traces of burnt material were also found, lending credence to the theory that it is located at a place of burial. Snorre says in his 'Heimskringla' from the 13th century about Norwegian history that fyrsta öld er kölluð brunaöld; þá skyldi brenna alla dauða menn ok reisa eptir bautasteina (The first period is called the "burn age", since all dead men were burned and stone monuments raised for them).

Other occurrences

In Sweden there are a great number of similar circles called 'domarringar' (judge rings). They often have an odd number of stones, usually 7, 9 or 11. Often they also have a larger stone to the east, and most are burial sites from the late Iron Age. There are also stone settings with elliptical shape and sharp edges, thus resembling a ship. One such is Ale's Stones, and there are theories that their shape could be used as a calendar based on the position of the sun.

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