Exploring the most Picturesque & Historic parts of England
The 12 foot high mass of sandstone known as Long Meg can be found close to a circle of smaller "daughter" stones in a spectacular hillside setting near Penrith in Cumbria. Following on from hauntingly beautiful Avebury and Stanton Drew, this is the 3rd largest stone Circle in England, and though smaller is no less impressive than the other sites.
Many experts feel the stones may have been sited at different times, the style and traces of feint carvings on Long Meg are suggestive of the Bronze Age, whilst the other carvings facing away from the circle may possibly date between 2500-2000 BCE.
The circle comprises of 59 large stones, the largest weighing in at 29 tons, with all the stones appearing to be of local porphyritic material. Speculation exists as to why Long Meg stands outside the circle, one theory is that originally she was used to sight the midwinter sun.
There are many legends associated with Long Meg and her Daughters. For hundreds, maybe thousands of years, local folk have believed the stones were a coven of witches celebrating some sacred rite or Sabbath, when a saint found them and cast them into stone! Another popular belief is that should the circle ever be removed or destroyed, those responsible would suffer for their actions. A fascinating legend surrounds Long Meg herself. It is said that were she ever to become damaged, she would bleed. A myth, often associated with stone circles, states that the stones are uncountable. It is supposed a spell is cast over the site and should the stones be counted twice in a row, the spell will be broken.
The magical territory on which the stones stand, surrounded by trees backed by beautiful Lakeland scenery, only serves to heighten the sense of awe and mystery as to who placed the stones and why? For centuries the site has captured the imagination of artists and poet's, most particularly William Wordsworth - the poet of the lakes - who immortalised Long Meg and her Daughters with the following words -
A weight of awe, not easy to be borne,
Fell suddenly upon my spirit - cast
From the dread bosom of the unknown past
When first I saw that family forlorn
Thus it was in Wordsworth's day, and thus the enigmatic sight of Long Meg and her Daughters remains a source of fascination, mystique and mystery to this day.
This atmospheric site is a "must see" for any visitor to Cumbria. It can be found close to Penrith which lies a short distance from junction 40 of the M6 motorway.
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