Thursday, 13 August 2015

Long Meg and Her Daughters Stone Circle

On Tuesday we had a day out and motored up the A6 through Lancaster, Carnforth and Milnthorpe, up Shap to Penrith and then north on the A686, turning off to the tiny but quite pretty village of Little Salkeld and then up a tiny road that turned to a dirt track running right through the middle of what we had come to see.

This is Long Meg and Her Daughters. Long Meg being the large red sandstone monolith on the left and her daughters being the large stone circle she inclines towards.

The circle is one of our larger ones at 328 feet (100m) on the longest axis of its slightly flattened shape. 57 stones still exist with 27 still standing. It is thought there could have been up to 70 stones originally. Let's have a wander around the circumference, taking care to avoid the many cowpats, some of which are rather fresh and somewhat chokingly ripe... Luckily we found the field free of cows themselves!

A distinct lack of atmosphere I found, though of course atmosphere is easily brought with you and can be very personal to you. The weather also influences it and what we had expected to be a sunny day was starting to slide towards dark and dismal as I got further away from the car...

Not all of the stones of the circle are the same colour. The bluish stones are thought to be of significance - marking solstices or sometimes most northern/southern moon rise or set. Other stones are thought to have such purposes too, though with so many stones it would be almost impossible not to be able to find alignments with all the combinations of stones to choose from!

I'm now approaching part of the circle closest to Long Meg herself.

The skies are clouding quite well... is the circle going to treat me to a bit of spooky atmosphere?

Long Meg is the only sandstone block. She stands over 12 feet high (3.8m). She is said to resemble a witch from a certain viewpoint. That is, if you think of witches as twelve feet high and all flat sides and corners... We passed an old direction signpost from Ministry of Works days pointing to "Long Meg and Her Daughters, Druids Circle" on our way here.

Someone obviously wants to carry on some sort of tradition! There are not enough records of the Druids to know what they did really - the Romans were that appalled by them that they strove to wipe them from history. We have fictional accounts of horrible tortures, naked priests showing their flabby bums at opposing armies to frighten them, and those rather strange though mostly harmless white-robed figures chanting at Stonehenge at solstice times. Very little evidence of what they actually got up to.

The stone has some ancient carvings and marks, cup and saucer marks, spirals and more. Atmosphere? Not yet...

Wait... wait... can you sense that...? Miss Franny exclaims and sets off determinedly back towards the car! Yeow! Midges! Loads of them!

I'm made of stronger stuff however and... no I'm not... I'm off towards the car too, but the midges do seem to be concentrated around Long Meg herself.

Close by the monolith are two portal stones, set just a little outside the circle and forming an entrance.

I arrive back at the road that dissects the circle. Further on is a farm and the track continues a little way until it peters out having allowed the farmer access into the last field before a forest that stands above the River Eden.

There wasn't much point in following it and I did a U-turn and we headed back down towards Little Salkeld after a final look back at the circle and the guarding figure of Long Meg. As we headed away from the circle the first spots of rain hit the windscreen. "Come back soon," Long Meg was saying, "I can do atmospheric..."

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