Ballynoe Stone Circle is a large and complex site which appears as a large circle of over 50 closely spaced upright stones, some as much as six feet tall, with some small gaps, surrounding a space about 110 ft across. Two of the fallen stones have cavities which could be artificial cup-marks. The stones of the outer circle are nearly all composed of local Silurian grit, but a few are granite erratics. Two of the stones stand 7 ft apart immediately outside the circle on the west, and there are four outlying stones, two on the north-east and two on the south-west. In the eastern half of the circle is an oval mound contained within a kerb with diameters of 46 and 58 ft, with the long axis on an east–west alignment. Immediately inside the circle on the west, opposite a pair of external stones, is an arc of six stones supporting the edge of a raised platform which occupies much the same position as the oval mound on the east. Excavations found that the 5-foot-high (1.5 m) mound was of stony earth, with a stone cairn at the core. Under the mound, between the cairn and the kerb were found a number of smooth boulders (baetyls) set in the old surface. Large cists were found at the east and west ends of the mound containing cremated bones.
It would seem that a kerbed round mound in the passage tomb tradition was added to the east end of a long cairn in the court tomb tradition, with a stone circle encompassing this composite structure. The site is the result of long development, and a late Neolithic to earlier Bronze Age date range is likely, as it seems to span several different building phases. Aubrey Burl has noted that a number of the characteristic features of the Ballynoe circle (its diameter, outlying stones and north–south alignment) are closely paralleled in Cumbria.
The mound was excavated in 1937–38 by Dutch archaeologist, Dr AE Van Giffen, who died before publishing his examination of the site. The excavation concentrated on the mound, finding stone cists containing cremated bones. The only pottery recovered was from a small cremation pocket outside the mound and was a decorated rim sherd of Carrowkeel (passage grave) ware. There was a random scatter of cremation pockets between the mound and the stone circle. The excavations failed to satisfactorily explain the relationship between the various parts of the site.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.