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In archaeology, a stone row or stone alignment is a linear arrangement of standing stones. Rows may be individual or grouped in parallel lines and three or more stones lined up can constitute a stone row site. It differs from a prehistoric avenue in that the stones are always in a broadly straight line rather than following a more curving route. They can be few metres or several kilometres in length and made from stones that can be as tall as 2m although 1m high stones are the most common. The terminals of many rows have the largest stones and other megalithic features are sometimes sited at the ends, especially burial cairns.
The stones are placed at intervals and may vary in height along the sequence, providing a gradated appearance. It is unclear whether this was done deliberately. They were erected by later Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples in the British Isles, parts of Scandinavia and northern France.
The term alignment is sometimes taken to imply that the rows were placed purposefully in relation to other factors such as other monuments or topographical or astronomical features. Archaeologists treat stone rows as discrete features however and alignment refers to the stones being lined up with one another rather than anything else.
Their purpose is thought to be religious or ceremonial perhaps marking a processual route. Another theory is that each generation would erect a new stone to contribute to a sequence that demonstrated a people's continual presence.
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