Tuesday, 28 March 2017


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Long Meg and her Daughters is a Neolithic stone circle in the Northern Lake District; we went there on Sunday.

There are reckoned to be around sixty stone circles in Cumbria, the most in any one county not of course that counties had any meaning in 2000BC. Why so many? Actually the relevant question is why so many still extant? Might be something to do with the relatively stable agricultural landscape: no mining, just one railway line, few roads little industry away from the coast in other words, no good reasons over the centuries to dig up or push over the stones. Long Meg is the third or fourth largest [by diameter] circle in the UK. Only Stanton Drew and the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney are larger. It is located in a slightly bowl-shaped depression on top of a high hill that you can take the car to and park. It has views to both the east and the west and careful measurements indicate that it is aligned to the rise of the Winter Solstice [21st December]. There is evidence that Long Meg itself, a 3-meter high megalith of sandstone as opposed to the slate of all the other stones, was a later addition. Long Meg has a number of cut circles and carved cup & ring marks on one face suggesting [in my opinion] that that was why it was chosen. They weren’t carved in-situ . . .  they dragged the extant stone up the mountain because of its previous [2500-years?] of religious significance.

It is like most of these circles in that it was built as a predictive calendar; when was the best time to sow; what is the right time to harvest? Plus probably, various rites took place. Something I read, sorry forgotten where said only that it was a meeting place; they have found thousands of flints and axe heads there from as far away as Langdale, the only local source. Perhaps that’s true but later. No society would construct something like this to trade in flints.

There are two double entrances at north and south which add weight to the theory of a large crowd congregating in an enclosed space. I was interested in the acoustics. There was a guy there with a small camera team presumably making some kind of video and you could hear him speaking right across from him on the other side. In a normal voice.

Not the best or most interesting circle I have ever been to that award will always go to Callanish, but it and Castlerigg across the valley make up an almost unique pairing of Neolithic monuments that we are fortunate to have.


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