Castlerigg Stone Circle - History and Facts | History Hit

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Allerdale, England, United Kingdom

Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria is a Neolithic Stone Age monument of 38 stones which ranks among the earliest of stone circles found in Britain.

Lily Johnson

01 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Castlerigg Stone Circle

Sitting atop a stunning natural plateau just outside Keswick in Cumbria, Castlerigg Stone is a late Neolithic Stone Age/early Bronze Age monument ranking among the earliest stone circles in Britain and possibly Europe.

Castlerigg Stone Circle history

It is believed Castlerigg Stone Circle was constructed around 3200 BC, and although its original purpose remains largely unknown, possible uses include a trading post, meeting place, a religious site or an astronomical observatory.

Archaeoastronomers have noted with interest that some of the stones have been aligned with certain lunar positions as well as the midwinter sunrise and is often used to celebrate the solstice.

It’s somewhat surprising that so little scientific research has been carried out at Castlerigg given their significance including almost no excavation although in the 19th century, three Neolithic stone axes were found close by suggesting that axe trading was in operation but it remains speculation.

Castlerigg Stone Circle today

Today the site is run by English Heritage and is open to visitors, its scenic hilltop setting providing pretty views of the surrounding area including High Seat, Helvellyn and the Thirlmere Valley.

In total Castlerigg contains 38 stones within the outer circle, which has a diameter of approximately 30m; the heaviest stone weighs around 16 tons and the tallest stands at 2.3m. Inside the circle are further stones forming an inner rectangle – an unusual feature found at only one other ancient site, the Cockpit at Askham Fell near Ullswater.

Despite their usage remaining something of a mystery, simply walking this ancient site affords visitors with a peek into some of Britain’s oldest history.

Getting to Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle is located just outside of Keswick in Cumbria, just off the A591. The nearest train station is Penrith, 16 miles away, while the Stagecoach ‘Caldbeck Rambler’ service 73A passes the site on Saturdays. Otherwise Stagecoach 555 may be taken to to Castle Lane, from which it is a mile walk to the site.

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