Long Meg and Her Daughters
[Tuesday - 05/04/99] Long Meg and Her Daughters is the third largest English stone circle (the other two being the outer circle at Avebury in Wiltshire and Stanton Drew in Avon). The monument dates from the Bronze Age and it consists in a huge ring (the Daughters) of almost 60 local porphyritic stones and in a tall outlier (Long Meg). The circle measures 109.4 x 93m (359 x 305 feet) and it lies on a slight slope, with the east and west cardinal points marked by two massive blocks and an entrance at the south-west defined by two large boulders and by two further stones lying outside the ring.
Long Meg is a 3.6m (12 ft) high block of red sandstone 72.6m (238 ft) south-west from the circle centre: this is the alignement of the midwinter sunset. On its north-east face there are some ring and spiral carvings, perhaps reflecting its astronomical alignement. The decorated side of Long Meg doesn't face the circle, so the outlier and the ring may not be contemporary. Aerial photographs of the site have revealed that the circle is enclosed in a bank, not visible from the ground.
In the 18th century, there was an attempt to destroy the stones, but a tremendous thunderstorm and superstitions stopped the project. For the local tradition, Long Meg and her daughters were a coven of witches turned into stones by a saint (or a powerful wizard) during their sabbath. As many other megalithic monuments, these stones are said to be uncountable: it is impossible to get the same total, but if anyone can do it twice, the spell will be broken. Another story says that Long Meg would bleed if broken down.
We saw it on the map while driving from Birdoswald to Brougham Castle and couldn't resist the allure! In fact, the drive was so pastoral, a deer leaped out in front of the van, across the road, and over a low wall.
Last modified on Wednesday, November 26, 2008|
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