Long Meg And Her Daughters Stone Circle

Long Meg And Her Daughters by munki-boy

Long Meg And Her Daughters Stone Circle

The monument is the stone circle known as Long Meg and Her Daughters, together with an associated cursus or linear earthwork to the west of the stone circle, and a prehistoric enclosure to the north. It is located on the edge of a wide sandstone terrace above the east bank of the River Eden. The monument includes an oval enclosure of stones with an outlying stone known as Long Meg to the south west. The cursus and prehistoric enclosure have been identified from cropmarks visible in aerial photographs which clearly show the infilled ditches of these two monuments, neither of which are visible at ground level. The stone circle includes 69 large stones, some standing and some fallen, which are granitic glacial erratics arranged in a slight oval flattened to the north. The stones enclose an area measuring approximately 109m east-west by 94m north-south. An entrance at the south west side of the circle has two stones outside the main circle forming a portal or doorway into the circle. A short distance beyond the entrance is Long Meg, an outlying monolith of red sandstone 3.4m tall aligned from the centre of the circle on the mid-winter sunset. It is decorated with cup and ring marks - a relief sculpture produced by pecking and considered to be a form of religious symbolism - together with numerous other motifs including spirals, concentric circles, ovoids and curved lines. Immediately to the north of the stone circle, and partly overlain by Longmeg Farm, aerial photographs have identified the infilled ditch of a roughly circular enclosure measuring some 210m north-south by 200m east-west. At the point where the stone circle and the enclosure virtually touch, the stone circle has been flattened slightly in shape suggesting that the enclosure was already in existence and the stones arranged so as not to disturb this earlier feature. To the west of the stone circle aerial photographs have identified two infilled ditches of a cursus running for approximately 600m from the cliff above the River Eden to the entrance on the south western side of the stone circle. The ditches are virtually parallel and c.40m-50m apart. The western end of the cursus is terminated by an oblique ditch also visible on aerial photographs. The eastern end is less clear; the northern ditch appears to run to the edge of the stone circle, the southern ditch, however, cannot be traced quite this far on existing aerial photographs but it is reasonable to assume that it also continues at least to the stone circle. The designs of the rock art depicted on Long Meg, together with dating evidence from other stone circles and cursuses suggest use of this monument as a religious or ritual gathering point from the Late Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age, c.2400 - 1000 BC. Antiquarian reports indicate that two round cairns were located within the stone circle in the 17th century, and local tradition states that bones were also found. The surface of the road to Longmeg Farm and the track beyond the farm, and all walls, fences, gateposts, field boundaries and telegraph poles are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all these features is included. Extract from Record of Scheduled Monuments

Taken individually Long Meg and Her Daughters stone circle, the cursus, and the prehistoric enclosure are each of major archaeological importance. The stone circle is the largest irregular stone circle in Cumbria and is considered, on the basis of its form, to belong to an early period in the tradition of stone circle construction. The outlying stone, Long Meg, displays a well preserved and complex arrangement of prehistoric rock art. The cursus is the only known example of this class of monument in north west England, and the prehistoric enclosure is considered, on the basis of the arrangement of stones in the adjacent stone circle, to predate the circle and thus represents a rare survival of a Neolithic enclosure. Taken collectively the site represents a unique combination of spatially associated monuments of the Late Neolithic - Early Bronze Age date. This association suggests that use of these individual monuments probably overlapped for at least some of their respective periods of use and attests to the importance of this area as a major gathering point for the wider populace for religious, ritual and ceremonial purposes during many centuries. Extract from Record of Scheduled Monuments

Created: 27  November  2016  Edited: 24  July  2018

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