The World Heritage Site of Wanar in Senegal features 21 stone circles, remarkable not least because they were erected in the twelfth and thirteenth century AD, when Islam ruled the Indian Ocean and Europe was in its Middle Ages. The state of preservation has benefited the exemplary investigation currently carried out by a French-Senegalese team, which we are pleased to report here. The site began as a burial ground to which monumental stones were added, perhaps echoing the form of original funerary houses. Found in a neighbouring field were scoops left from the cutting out of the cylindrical monoliths from surface rock. While the origins of Wanar lie in a period of state formation, the monuments are shown to have had a long ritual use. The investigation not only provides a new context for one of the most important sites in West Africa but the precise determination of the sequence and techniques used at Wanar offers key pointers for the understanding of megalithic structures everywhere.