Gambia’s Magic Stone Circles

The Senegambian stone circles lie in Gambia north of Janjanbureh and in central Senegal. Coordinates: 13° 41 N – 15° 31 W. Approximate area: 15,000 square miles (39,000 km²). They are sometimes divided into the Wassu (Gambian) and Sine-Saloum (Senegalese) circles, but this is purely a national division.

The stones were erected around the eighth century on top of earlier graves. The ten to twenty-four stones in each circle vary in size up to ten-ton stones, from 1 to 2.5 metres high and are generally of laterite. The stones mark burials and were erected before the twelfth century. There are around 1,000 stone circles, the biggest concentration being more than 1,000 stones in fifty-two circles at Djalloumbéré and those around the village of Wassu, which has a museum devoted to them. One notable circle is actually a V formation.

Traditionally, for unknown reasons, people leave small rocks on the stones. The use to which the stones were put is not clear but recent excavation work (2006), reported by the National Geographic Society, suggests a funerary purpose given the large number of human remains found at the sites. Archaeologists at the site are pursuing the theory that different parts of a body were buried at different sites and at different times

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