Neolithic Britain’s Most Beautiful Secret

(Editor’s note: This is a post by my friend Hannah, author of this post.)

The stone circle at Castlerigg, in the Lake District of North-West England, is one of the most stunning of the stone circles that are spread across the British Isles and Brittany. Stone circles were originally raised as part of the megalithic wave of construction in the Late Neolithic Period and the Early Bronze Ages.

Castlerigg Stone Circle itself is estimated to have been raised around 3000 BCE: around the same time or earlier than Stonehenge. While Stonehenge may be more famous, it is important to place these stones in the context of the world around them: while Stonehenge is situated next to a busy road and a barrier is put between the stones and their visitors, Castlerigg is positioned on a plateau in the centre of a ring of hills and snow-capped mountains (known together as ‘fells’). Ordinary people, and sheep, are free to climb all over the stones as they wish.

Castlerigg Stone Circle consists of approximately forty stones arranged in a circle with a smaller rectangular structure positioned at its eastern end. Little is actually known about it: it is speculated that the stone circle may have been an astronomical clock, a place of worship, or a calendar. Because of its accessible nature it is still used by druids and pagans as a place of meditation and celebration, events that can only happen at Stonehenge on the occasions of the summer and winter solstice.

I have visited the stone circle at Castlerigg at least three times now, in different seasons of different years. Despite the changing weather, one thing is constant: the breath taking and uplifting experience that I have had while standing in the centre of these two concentric circles: one of stones, and one of mountains.

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