Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

I walked 3 miles from the centre of Keswick to this most mystical and magical Neolithic stone circle of Castlerigg. It is around 5200 years old, built before the Pyramids. I fell in love with it and its magnificent setting some 18 years ago when I first visited here. It is located on a low plateau above Keswick, and is surrounded as in an amphitheatre by mountains and fells which are simply stunning to behold. One could not fail but to be moved when capturing and taking in the whole vision on first sighting.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

I found it stirred and pulled at something deep within me. I couldn’t help but marvel at how people of such an ancient past age had conceived of such an idea, placing such time, effort and energy in such a large project. They were so attuned to nature and the landscape around them, and their view of the world and life was a lot different from ours is today. However they built a beautiful and enigmatic monument which has certainly stood the test of time.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Viewed from within the circle and looking northwards there are two large stones with a wide opening between them which may have been an entrance way. There are 38 stones varying in size and shape forming the circle, and there is a legend that the stones are uncountable. The original circle may have had up to 42 stones as there are some apparent gaps. The tallest stone is 2.3m (7.5 feet) high, and the heaviest is 16 tons, and all are made from local rock which formed an ancient seabed over 400 million years ago.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Inside the eastern end of the circle is a rectangle of 10 stones which has been called the ‘sanctuary’, although nobody know what it actually was or used for.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle

It is hard to imagine that this ancient monument had already been standing for 3000 years when the Romans first arrived in Britain, and for 4000 years when the Vikings landed their longships on these shores.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

As well as being one of the most beautiful and beautifully set stone circles in Britain, it is also probably one of the most important. It is one of the oldest in Britain, and Europe for that matter, and it does not contain any formal burials like the later Bronze Age circles do. Therefore it’s true purpose remains unclear, but at the time it was erected it was certainly at the forefront of the minds of its builders.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

One could almost imagine being back there in ancient times when amongst this ring of standing stones within its natural surroundings. Just imagine the day after the last stones had been erected, how these people must have felt after such an achievement, how their plan and design had finally come into being through sheer will and hard work. And just imagine, even for just one single moment, what it would be like to step inside the mind of one of these ancient peoples to know what they knew, and to feel what they felt within their close connections to the earth and the heavens which helped sustained them, knowing what inspired them so to move earth and stone for future generations to ponder over and to marvel at.


Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer


July 2018, Keswick, Cumbria, England. © Pete Hillman.

43 thoughts on “Castlerigg Stone Circle

    • Thank you, Candice! I have always had a fascination for ancient monuments such as this one, but because we do not see the world in the same was as they did back then we may never truly understand their true meaning.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Those large rock circles never cease to amaze me. How on earth did they drag them there and erect them? I mean to say we know, or think we know, how they built the pyramids, but temples and the like were more common then. I think if you check which direction the largest opening is, it will be something to do with the stars and some sort of pagan worship.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There is still a lot of debate about these ancient structures and what they were used for. Some do seem to align with certain stars or planets, and especially phases of the moon and the sun’s midsummer and midwinter solstices. The ancients certainly took notice of the changes in the heavens and the earth, and knew how important these cycles were for their own very survival.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a wonderful post, Pete. We always wonder what made the ancient people do what they did without technology and tools. I watched the video of Easter Island several times and it still amazed me.
    It’s an awing experience that you were there to see these monuments!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Such a special place! It was grey and misty when we were there, which just added to the stones’ mystery. Our visit – long ago, now – took place one year to the day before Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book – which of course deals with a very magickal stone circle – was published. Is the stile going over the stone wall still there? (I love stiles.) There was also a herd of cows and what looked to be a bull (do they let them mix together when grazing?); we had to constantly keep our eye on them, as they looked like they were going to come toward us at any moment. I’ll never forget that visit! Thank you for sharing all these wonderful pictures and information, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome, gillyflower, and I am pleased you enjoyed going back there. Yes the stile is still there going over the dry stone wall. I saw some cows and bulls but they didn’t appear to be mixed. But the bulls are the ones to keep your eye on indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful. Added to the ‘must visit’ list! 🙂 I have explored some Neolithic sites in south-western Britain and it is moving to think of those people from so long ago. Did they love or fear the hills, I wonder?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 🙂 Wow, great post! I love Castlerigg and how the whole fits into the landscape around it. Stone circles, their construction, purpose and mythology, are always so fascinating, and Castlerigg is the perfect example. Oh I could go on…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pete

    I am visiting Castlerigg stone circle later this month on an organised walk from Keswick. I notice you have photographed sections of the circle not the complete circle. To photograph the complete circle would you need a ultrawide angle e.g. a 14mm lens? My widest is 24mm and I do not want to buy an ultrawide.
    Look forward to hearing your opinion. Wow pictures, thanks for sharing.
    BW
    Derek.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Derek,
      Thank you for your comment and interest 🙂 There is a complete shot of the circle in the last image. I used a 18mm to 300mm lens for the images. The problem was trying to keep other folk out the image as it is a very popular site and much visited. It is always good to have a choice of lenses available, but what you have should do the job without the extra expense, and the land is such you can pace a distance away. I hope you anjoy your visit and get the shots you are after!
      Best wishes
      Pete

      Like

  7. Breathtaking, awesome, powerful, beautiful photos Pete of such a magical place! (By co-incidence used as an opening image for Sally’s latest!)

    Liked by 1 person

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