Long Meg and Her Daughters

Long Meg and her Daughters by Graeme DougalA short walk from the village of Little Salkeld is the third largest prehistoric stone circle in England, Long Meg and her Daughters. Dating from the Bronze Age (c.2000-900BC), Long Meg, sitting on a hill, measures 357ft by 305ft. The 60 standing stones are arranged in a rough circle, while the 12ft tall sandstone pillar of Long Meg is outside the circle, thus suggesting the name.

On Long Meg's sides are carvings of concentric circles,Long Meg and her Daughters by Graeme Dougalspirals, and a “cup and ring”. Viewing a midwinter sunset from the centre of the stone circle shows it setting directly behind Long Meg. North of the circle and enclosing part of it was a ditched 10-acre site.

Legends and stories about the site abound. The best known is that the stones are really a group of witches who danced here on the Sabbath and were Long Meg and her Daughters by Graeme Dougalturned into the stones by a magician. Another states that no one can count the stones more than once and come up with the same number. Superstition says Long Meg bleeds if the rock is chipped. Apparently the stone's mysterious powers were still forceful in 1725 when the owner of Salkeld Hall decided to use the stones for mileposts. A wild storm descended on the workers attempting to move the stones, and they ran, fearing for their lives.

William Wordsworth stated that he knew of Long Meg and her Daughters early in his childhood, and, in 1821, he wrote a poem about the stone circle:

“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;-
Speak Thou, whose massy strength and stature scorn
The power of years - pre-eminent, and placed
Apart, to overlook the circle vast. . .”Long Meg and her Daughters by Graeme Dougal

Long Meg and her Daughters are located on minor road ¾ mile north of Little Salkeld off the A686 at Langwathby.

Photos courtesy of Graeme Dougal

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