Stand around it, take in the view, and you’ll see why it inspired Romantic poets John Keats and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Castlerigg Stone Circle is the “dismal cirque of Druid stones, upon a forlorn moor” that Keats described in Hyperion. It’s also one of the Lake District’s most popular attractions.
Located near Keswick, Castlerigg is a circle of 38 slate stones that was constructed around 3200 BC, making it one of the earliest stone circles in Britain. It measures 107 feet at its widest point and 97 feet at its narrowest point, and the heaviest stone is around 16 tons. Because of its irregular oval shape, it’s considered to be a very early stone circle. Most likely, it was used for ceremonies and as a place that Neolithic communities who farmed in the area used to gather and exchange items. Ceremonies continue there today around the time of the solstice, since the circle of stones is aligned with the sun.
Two massive stones flank the entrance to the circle. A rectangular group of stones, known as the Sanctuary, is thought to have been built later, as a way to focus attention on significant rituals or events taking place within a specific part of the circle.
Castlerigg is situated on the plateau of a hill. It offers dramatic views of the Thirlmere Valley and the mountains of Helvellyn and High Seat, some of the highest peaks in Cumbria. As you take in the scene, you’ll likely see several sheep wandering around in between the stones.
Long Meg and her Daughters is another large Bronze Age stone circle located near Penrith. Long Meg is a red sandstone monolith that’s 12 feet tall and is decorated with spirals and rings of concentric circles. She stands 80 feet to the southwest of the circle made by her 59 stone “daughters.” While it was probably created as a gathering place, like Castlerigg, legend has it that the stones were once a group of witches who were turned to stone by a Scottish wizard. If you count the number of stones in the circle correctly, it’s said that you can hear Meg whisper.