Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

One has to wonder who built, and for what purpose Castlerigg Stone Circle, located within a short distance of Keswick, whilst believed to have been built around 3000 BC at the beginning of the Neolithic Period. Castlerigg is also one of the earliest stone circles in Britain, spectacularly situated a top of the plateau of Castlerigg Fell, within a panorama of rugged hills and fells of ever changing character, depending on the ever changing Lakeland weather and seasons.

Although the circles origins are unknown it is believed that it was used for ceremonial or religious purposes, whilst it is important in terms of megalithic astronomy and geometry, as the construction contains significant astronomical alignments.

Castlerigg Stone Circle consists of 38 stones of variable size and shape, whilst they are all un-hewn boulders, and natural in formation. Some of the stones stand over 5 in height, although some have fallen since the circles erection over the last 5,000 years. Just inside the eastern end of the circle is a group of 10 stones forming a rectangular enclosure known as a cove, the purpose of which is unknown. The circle is 32.6 metres at its widest and the heaviest stone has been estimated to weigh 16 tons.

Castlerigg Stone Circle was bought in 1913 by Cannon Hardwicke Rawnsley, who was a co-founder of the National Trust, and the stone circle is on land owned by the National Trust, whilst maintained by English Heritage.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Excavations within the cove, in 1882 provided very little in the way of archaeological finds, although quantities of charcoal where discovered. There is a wide space to the northern end of the circle, framed by two large stones, which may have served as an entrance. A stone axe head was found on the site in 1875.

On a more mysterious level Castlerigg Stone Circle has been the focus of one well-recorded sighting in 1919 by a man called T Singleton and his friend, of mysterious and strange light phenomena, as they watched white light balls moving slowly over the stones. Strange light themes are a recurring oddity to ancient sites throughout the world, and this may have been one of the reasons for the construction of such monuments at specific locations.

On a clear day you will be rewarded with spectacular rugged Lakeland panoramic views from Castlerigg Stone Circle, with some of the highest peaks in Cumbria, the mountains of Hellvellyn, Latrigg, Skiddaw, Grassmoor and Blencathra. The plateau of Castlerigg being surrounded by such peaks creates a natural amphitheatre with the raised Castlerigg Stone Circle at the centre.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Sitting within the stone circle on a summer’s solstice as the sun rises, surrounded by the power, beauty and authority of Mother Nature it is hard not to be in wonder at the original magnitude and real purpose of the circle. I am no historian, although 5,000 years ago where we not still hunter gatherers? Here at Castlerigg Stone Circle moving anything up to 16 ton of rugged stones about would be an arduous task today, so imagine why you would have even considered stepping out of your rural dwelling of 5,000 years ago without any of life’s modern luxuries to construct such a lasting monument as Castlerigg Stone Circle, when surely survival would have been top of my priority list.

Should you wish to see better quality photographs of this walk please visit Castlerigg Stone Circle on our Lake District Walks Flickr account.

I hope you enjoy your visit to Castlerigg Stone Circle.