Monday 17th January 2022
Castle lane, Keswick, CA12 4RN
For my birthday I decided to go to a stone circle, and took my partner with me. I did a bit of research, factoring in travel, weather and impressiveness and came up with a few options. I narrowed it down to Castlerigg in the Lake District because it had the best of all three.
On Monday morning we went to Piccadilly train station and had no problems with transport which was a relief because I do have a form. We had a changeover at Wigan North Western and got off at Penrith. As soon as we left the station I realised I’d been to here before! I recognised Penrith Castle from one of my previous trips to the Lakes. I later worked out that I’d gone through Penrith to get to Ullswater, but whenever anyone asks I can’t remember the names and just say I went to a waterfall.
The buses to Keswick weren’t very regular, so we decided to take a gander around Penrith Castle. Then we went to the park next door and I nearly fell over from dizziness after being spun round on a roundabout. It’s the little things that keep a relationship interesting! When it was time, we caught the X4 gold outside the station, heading in the direction of Keswick. Once in town, we were on the hunt for some brunch. We found a nice place that I unfortunately can’t remember the name of, but it was very tasty.
Once we were fed, it was time to head to the stone circle. We took a detour to skip pebbles on the river Greta, and after some debating over Google maps we were headed in the right direction. We were very lucky to have such good weather in January, and got to witness the circle at sunset. It was absolutely beautiful, and even more remarkable than what a Google image search yielded. There were a few other visitors, but it wasn’t too busy. After a few laps round the landmark, we walked down Castle lane for a bit, then turned back to town when it started to get dark.
While taking many photos, I managed to capture the first full moon of the New Year. It wasn’t hard because it was so big, and very inspiring. Once we got back to town, it was pitch black and definitely time to go home. The bus and trains took their time, but eventually we were nice and warm inside after an enjoyable and wholesome day out.
I was having too much birthday fun to record my route, but I estimate that we walked about 4 miles in total that day, when I round up a bit.
Castlerigg is believed to be one of the earliest stone circles of Britain, dated from 4000-5000 years ago. This puts it somewhere around the late Neolithic period, and the early Bronze Age. The circle stands on a natural plateau, which I originally assumed was just a thoroughly ploughed field. But it’s interesting to consider that this location was maybe chosen specifically for its geographical and environmental qualities, especially when you take into account the amazing views.
Inside this stone circle lies a small stone rectangle. This is quite unusual as the only other circle known to share this feature is the Cockpit, near Ullswater. It has been speculated that this rectangle marks a grave, however, unlike other ancient sites of this kind, there is no evidence of formal burials here. What has been discovered are some Neolithic stone axes, which suggests our ancestors traded certain goods in this spot. Some stones align with solar and lunar positions, posing the idea that the circle had astronomical significance. Other theories include social and religious rituals as the original purpose for the site.
While we’ll never truly know the real use for the stone circle, and the reason it was built, it could have been for all the possibilities listed above.
All links about the history of Castlerigg are listed below.