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Stone Circle, Cumbria

Castlerigg is surrounded by the
hills of the Lake District

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Also known as the Keswick Carles, this nearly complete stone circle of thirty-eight stones with an average diameter of 30 metres is well worth a visit, not only to see the varied and fascinating shapes and textures of these ancient stones but also to admire the dramatic sensibility with which the people of the Bronze Age sited this sanctuary in what is, even today, one of the loveliest parts of Britain. A good time to visit is after dawn or at dusk, although the site is accessible at all times.

The circle is, in effect, within a natural amphitheatre formed by the surrounding hills, across which the shadows of the passing clouds make an ever-changing backdrop. Pictured above is the view to the north towards Skiddaw and Blancathra.

Nothing is really known about this site. In 1875 an unpolished stone axe was found here, and this is now in Keswick Museum. There was some excavation done in 1882 in the rectangular grouping of stones which joins on to the eastern side of the circle, but only charcoal was found. Of the thirty-eight stones five are now fallen and only a few are more than 1.5 metres high. There is an unusual rectangular feature known as the Cave attached to the main circle.

Access: 2.5km east of Keswick,the circle is in the care of the National Trust, and is well signposted. Turn off the A66 a hundred metres east of the junction with the A591. A minor road leads south, and the circle is 1.2km along here on the right.
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Sunrise2l.jpg (6984 bytes)Rich Warren sent this photo: "I just thought I'd write and say how much I enjoyed your site. I've been to many of the stone circles, I thought you might get a kick out of this photo. It's summer solstice sunrise 1996, from inside Castlerigg circle. I think it's by far one of the most beautiful circles in the country. I think there were probably around 100-150 people at that summer solstice. We've been about 3 times now for the solstice, and stayed out all night. The National Park Wardens keep an eye on things, the police block the road up to stop vehicles, but don't come up to the site. It's an interesting mix of people to say the least, locals, hippies, a witch or two. Lots of people take instruments with them, you can hear drums as you walk up the hill to the circle, all very tribal. There are usually fire jugglers as well. A nice outdoor party. It gets a bit nippy in the middle of the night though, and the drive home the next morning is a killer ;-) Luckily we're in Carlisle so its not too far."

Rating: General Impression 4, Ambience 5, Access 5

Personal: Unbeatable location set within the Lake District peaks

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