Driving up the steep hill out of Keswick in the Lake District one is not prepared for the natural grandeur of the Castlerigg Stone Circle. It is only when one arrives at the stones that one sees the surrounding hills in all their glorious majesty making completely different distant backdrops to the stones depending whether one is facing north, south, east or west. This is a place of ancient power and striking beauty. There are alignments with solar and lunar positions. The circle is 107 feet across and the stones are about 5 feet high, a few fallen over, the heaviest weighing around 16 tons. It was probably assembled around 5,000 years ago being one of Europe’s earliest circles. At the eastern side there is a curious feature called the Cove – a stone rectangle.
There is a famous legend saying it is impossible to count the stones and interestingly in research for this project Julian Cope thought there were 35, Richard Leviton 38 and the National Trust official figure is 40! John Michell thought the stones appeared to have stood ‘forever’ and provide ‘a passage’ or portal into the ancient world and its thinking. He wrote, ‘As a place of aesthetic development and mental readjustment this spot has no rival’ (Travellers Key to Sacred England’ Knopf 1988). This circle is owned and looked after by the National Trust.
Location: Out of Keswick on the Penrith road take right turn up Eleventrees to top of the hill – entrance is on the right.
Coordinates: 54.6028°N 3.0984°W
Photo Credit: Rob Bendall CC