The Giant’s Ring dates from the Neolithic period and was built around 2700BC, meaning that it predates the Egyptian pyramids. The site has had some sort of public use throughout its history. It is near the Shaw’s Bridge crossing of the River Lagan, a point which has been used as a crossing of the river since at least the Stone Age. The original purpose of the monument was most likely as a meeting place or as a memorial to the dead.
Archaeologist Michael J. O’Kelly believed that the Giant’s Ring, like hundreds of other passage tombs built in Ireland during the Neolithic period, such as Newgrange, showed evidence for a religion which venerated the dead as one of its core principles. He believed that this “cult of the dead” was just one particular form of European Neolithic religion, and that other megalithic monuments displayed evidence for different religious beliefs which were solar, rather than death-orientated.