Friday, December 6, 2013

Castlerigg Stone Circle, England

Castlerigg Stone Circle in the Lakes District is one of the most ancient monuments in England. It dates from 2500 BC. It is a large oval, which suggests it was an early stone circle. Like most such circles, its actual purpose is lost in the mists of time, though various speculations abound. Perhaps it was a gathering place for seasonal rituals or ceremonies or celebrations. Perhaps it was a market where people exchanged goods. Perhaps it was a place for negotiations or a safe haven or a calendar or etc. etc.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

The circle remained undiscovered in modern times until 1725, when antiquarian William Stukeley wrote about Castlerigg among other ancient sites. Strangely, he describes a second ring nearby but no evidence of it remains today. He popularized the spot, drawing many tourists to the region. William and Dorothy Wordsworth visited with Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1799 but had no poetic inspiration since the place was crowded with tourists. Others were captivated by the dramatic surroundings and the thought of druids making unholy sacrifices in unremembered (and perhaps uncredible) times.

The circle from the other side

One view from the circle

I'd like to say we found some evidence of unholy sacrifices with this dirty white bone-shaped object we found near one of the stones. But I have to admit it is just a wooden stick.


During the Victorian era, people began taking chippings from the stones as souvenirs.

Probably the only thing really harmed here

People quickly realized the threat to the monument and began a conservation program that eventually came under the auspices of the National Trust. We can attest to the Trust's attempts to keep the site pristine--the signage to get there is quite poor as are the signs leading to the circle. The circle is not visible from the roads and the gates leading to it are quite unremarkable. Except for the little rock they use to close the gates!

The gate uses the power of the stones--I mean, it is stone-powered

The circle includes an interesting feature, a small rectangle of stones that appears to be a later addition and has been dubbed "The Sanctuary." I wonder if this is the "other circle" mentioned by William Stukeley. Without a look at primary sources, it is hard to tell. It does seem like a special spot, though maybe it just seems that way because of J's own magical powers. Standing still and posing for a picture often seems to take elaborate magical incantations or offerings of substance and worth to the subject.

The Sanctuary

J beckons you into the Sanctuary...BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

We enjoyed another visit to an ancient stone monument like Avebury's Circle and the Devil's Arrows. Wondering how those ancient men and women achieved such construction with little to no technology is endlessly fascinating, let alone speculating about the purpose of such places.

Also, I like to think the ancient builders of places like Castlerigg were annoyed by those show-offs at Stone Henge. I imagine the Castleriggers complaining of how touristy and gaudy Stone Henge is, as if it were a pre-historic equivalent of Disney World. People haven't changed much over the years. It's a small world after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment