Happy Midsummer!

Castlerigg stone circle

Castlerigg stone circle

Okay, I know it looks like I’m a day early, but the midsummer solstice takes place in the UK at 05.04am tomorrow (21st). Castlerigg is, of course, the most famous of Cumbria’s stone circles and sometimes – often – it’s obvious why. Continue reading

The Druid’s Sacrifice, or History According to a Victorian Antiquarian

My observation in recent posts that interpretation of history has changed somewhat led to a few exclamation marks elsewhere in the halls of social media. In evidence, I present for your delectation a chapter which passed for history in the 1891 edition of Wilson Armistead’s Tales and Legends of the English Lakes.

Castlerigg stone circle, Cumbria

Castlerigg stone circle, Cumbria

‘The old road between Keswick and Penrith passes over a rough hill, called Castle Rigg1, which the new road now avoids. In a field adjoining this road, on the right hand side going on to Penrith, and at the distance of a mile-and-a half east by north from Keswick, are the remains of a Druidical2 Temple, popularly named Continue reading

Castlerigg, a 5,000-year-old stone circle

Castlerigg stone circle, Cumbria

Castlerigg stone circle, Cumbria

There are a lot of stone circles in Cumbria; about 65, in fact. Some are huge1, and some are tiny2. Some have massive standing stones that can hardly be missed from miles away as long as you have an eye line1 and others are so stumpy that you could literally trip over them before you realise they’re not sleeping sheep3.

Cumbria’s most famous, and most visited stone circle is Castlerigg, which is a Continue reading

Langdale axes: Cumbria’s prehistoric export

Whenever The Time Team‘s Phil waxes lyrical about flint knapping, arrowheads and axes, you can hear the TV audience willing the producer to hurry up. They just look like uninteresting flakes of dark grey stuff, which you often wouldn’t realise were anything special if you dug them out of your vegetable patch.

Copyright Michael Greenhalgh

Copyright Michael Greenhalgh

Langdale axes, now – that’s another matter. Made from greenish Borrowdale volcanic stone from the central Lake District, even the ‘rough-out’, unfinished axe heads look purposefully-shaped. The polished ones are amazing. They can be 11 inches long, with roughly parallel sides about 3 or 4 inches wide, an oval cross-section, and an almost glass-like sheen where they have been smoothed to perfection over many weeks.1 They are very hard, resistant to breaking, and often much bigger than their flint equivalents. There’s no mistaking these for natural stones; the skill and deliberateness of their manufacture sings down the millennia. Continue reading

Castlerigg Stone Circle

There is a new, updated and much longer post on Castlerigg here.

Castlerigg stone circle

Castlerigg stone circle

Castlerigg is the most-visited stone circle in Cumbria, and for good reason. For one, it’s well signposted from the A66 and Keswick, and for two, its location is quite spectacular. It lies on a small flat area of a low hill, surrounded by views of Skiddaw, Blencathra, Lonscale, Derwent and Castlerigg fells and as you enter this National Trust site from the road, you can see across the circle to a view of a typical Lake District valley, framed by two massive stones.

Continue reading