Long Meg and her Daughters

This is a Bronze Age (1500BC) stone circle near Penrith in Cumbria, the sixth largest in north-west Europe. There are between 59-69 stones (everyone seems to lose count and record a different number!) that form an oval shape 340 ft. (100metres) on its long axis. Long Meg standing stone is 12 ft. (3.6 metres) high, a monolith of red sandstone, and is 80 ft. (25 metres) to the south-west of the daughter circle. A small stone circle, Little Meg, is close by.

Again, this could be part of a larger complex including the henge at Marborough and King Arthur’s Round Table, a Neolithic henge south of Penrith. The different coloured stones in the circle are rhyolite, a form of granite. There are cup and ring markings on Long Meg herself. It would almost certainly have been a place of ritual and social exchange. Local tales foster the story of the wizard Michael Scott from Scotland turning a coven of witches to stone (the daughters) but they seem friendly enough to be viewed as Meg’s lovers or daughters! Wordsworth was very struck by this site writing, ‘Next to Stonehenge it is beyond dispute the most notable relic that this or probably any other country contains.’ In 1822 he was moved to lines of purity such as, ‘When first I saw that family forlorn’ and ‘Speak Giant-mother! Tell it to the Morn.’

Some of these stones seem to link with the horizon hills like those at Castlerigg. Julian Cope, like many others, was entranced and thought his time spent with Long Meg and her Daughters ‘a righteous experience’.

Location: From the A66 take the B6412 or from Penrith take the A686 to Langwathby then follow the small road sign posted Little Salkeld.

Coordinates: 54° 43′ 40.58″ N2° 40′ 3.54″ W

Photo credit: Simon Ledingham, Wiki Images, Creative Commons Licence