Castlerigg Stone Circle

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Among the loneliest of England's megalithic sites, Castlerigg sits in a spot that could best be described as mournful during the winter months, but affords spectacular views of the Lakeland fells that surround the low, undulating hill on which it stands.

Unlike it's showier cousins found at Stonehenge etc, the stones are surprisingly small. No superhuman efforts here - the stones are roughly hewn, and none stand more than 5ft tall.  While that might invite unflattering comparisons with some of the bigger (and better known) sacred sites, it does lend the circle a certain human-scaled charm.

The site also has greater power when its antiquity is considered. Archaelogists suppose the circle to have been erected around 3200BC - or possibly even earlier. This puts it among the very earliest of European monuments.

It may be its very antiquity that explains various features which set Castlerigg apart from some other stone circles. There are, for example, no obvious astronomical alignments to speak of - the best that can be claimed is that the sun rises over a nearby hill (Threlkeld Knott) at the Autumn equinox. With between 38 and 42 stones in the circle, it is also unsurprising that some have found other alignments at other times of year. However, there is no irrefutable connection with archeoastronomy.

Furthermore, there seems to have been little in the way of stonework carried out on the stones themselves. Indeed, another stone that had been buried (evidenced by the marks of a plough) nearby is variously ascribed to the circle or listed as a nearby boulder as there is nothing to distinguish it from the stones that definitely belong to the site.

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 31st January 2011 | © Weird Island 2010-2020
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