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Castlerigg Stone Circle (Keswick)

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1.25 miles east of Keswick, Cumbria. Castlerigg Stone Circle is one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain, and is the most visited stone circle in Cumbria. The stone circle is on land owned by the National Trust, and maintained

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      17.10.2011 13:37
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      It's worth a visit if you're in the area.

      Introduction.
      Having just returned from my first ever trip from the Lake District I have to say I had a wonderful time. There was plenty to do and we visited plenty of local attractions (more reviews to follow) but unfortunately Castlerigg Stone Circle was my least favourite part.

      Getting There.
      I believe there to be plenty of footpaths and various walks that take you to the Stone Circle but as we drove there I cannot comment on this. We found that the way to the Stone Circle was very well signposted up until the point where you actually arrived at the Circle. We could not see a sign that highlighted you had arrived at your destination, we simply noticed a lot of cars parked up and wondered what was going off. Luckily I saw the stones in the field and we parked up and got out for a proper look.

      What's There.
      The nice part about this tourist attraction is that it doesn't have the usual tourist things, nowhere to buy a souvenir, no café, no parking charge and no entrance fee. There wasn't even the ice cream van that has appeared in other reviews (we went at the end of September). The scenery is absolutely stunning, it is set in a beautiful place and you can see for miles. The stones themselves are interesting to look at, you may not be surprised to find out they are set in a circular shape, with an internal square bit known as 'the sanctuary'. It is fun to marvel at how they got up there, and they also spark a debate between yourselves about what was their purpose. The downside for us was that we wanted a bit more information on possible uses and the role they play nowadays. We found the information boards very boring and they didn't really tell you anything more than you could decipher yourself using common sense. It's also not a good place to go if you don't like sheep, there are a lot of sheep roaming around and I would advise appropriate footwear as there was a lot of 'sheep mess'.

      Overall it was worth the visit and I would recommend it if you're in the area but I wouldn't advise going out of your way to visit them, not on an ordinary day. However I think I would find this area a lot more interesting if there was an organised event occurring where people could tell you more about this place.

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        12.08.2010 23:26
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        A jewel of a place

        I recently visited Castlerigg stone circle with my wife and children during the summer holidays. We had been cycling for about 7 miles and came through St.John's In The Vale then passed the climbing wall. It was a bit of a climb up a hill & my wife,children and I were really tired by this time.
        We were lost and asked a farmer where we were. It was hard to remember when we'd met such a nice person last! He laughed with us and told us that we were near to the end of the hill. We said goodbye to him and continued.
        Then to our amazement and relief we saw an ice cream van. It saved our lives! Really,my childen needed some extra energy by this time and the van had local ice cream which was so tasty. We shared a joke with the man inside about how we thought his van was a mirage when we first spotted it.
        We then made our way to the stone circle which was full of people. There had just been a druid ceromony. One of the druids explained about it to us and he was so nice to my children and told them all about stone circles.
        My daughter Alice dropped her ice cream and he took her by the hand and told her that he knew the ice cream man very well and that he would explain what happened to him and that he was sure he would give her another one. This is exactly what happened. How nice,he even gave her a postcard from his van as well.
        They returned to us and then the druids left. It was sad to see them leave but they told us that even they have to work. We stayed inside the stone circle for about another hour.
        It was truly amazing that we strolled upon this place. Although it was busy it still seemed right to be there and the most important thing was how kind the people we met there were,the farmer,ice cream man,druids and many others along the way.
        We then made our way back to Keswick. Busy as usual there also!
        Just before we visited this spot our family had been through a very traumatic period and this place and the people we met there made this by far the best part of our holiday.
        Thank you Castlerigg and those of you who we met there.

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        10.08.2010 10:29
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        Ancient stone circle in the Lake District

        Castlerigg Stone Circle lies just to the east of the popular town of Keswick right in the heart of the Lake District National Park. As far as prehistoric stone circles go it is certainly very interesting but I'm sure that it is its close proximity to Keswick and the main A591 road that makes it the most visited stone circle in Northern England. I have visited many different examples of stone circles in Britain and there are some fine examples in the Peak District National Park close to where I live but in my opinion nothing compares to the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides (not even Stonehenge). I think that Callanish always tops my poll because of its sheer isolation and the incredible size of some of its stones. Having become somewhat blasé with stone circles over the years my hopes of being astounded by Castlerigg were not high but it was inevitable that they were high on my list of places to visit in the area.

        For the lazy tourist there is a narrow road that leads off the A66 and it is possible to park on the grass verges of this road very close to the stones. The stones are well sign posted from the A66 just as you pass the town sign for Keswick when approaching from the south. I chose to walk to them however via a footpath about a kilometre further down the road and I'd recommend this route for those that wish to enjoy the views of some of the surrounding mountains like Skiddaw and Helvellyn.

        I didn't pass anyone at all on my walk to the stones so I was very dismayed to find them surrounded by crowds of people as they came into view and even less impressed by the ice cream van park within just a few metres of them. I carried on towards them regardless and managed to time my arrival with 3 coach fulls of Japanese tourists!

        I've probably been a little bit unkind about Castlerigg Stone Circle so far because there's no denying that its location on Chestnut Hill on the flat plateau of Castlerigg Fell is absolutely stunning. Surrounding this plateau are the highest peaks in England (Skiddaw, Helvellyn, Blencthra and Grasmoor) and the main footpaths that lead towards these mountains all commence here.

        The stones are designated as a Special Archaeological Monument and probably date from around 3200BC. There's a local saying that nobody can accurately count the number of stones in the circle but according to the National Trust there are officially 40 stones. Most people usually count between 38 and 42 but if you try and count them 2 or 3 times the chances are that you will probable get a different total. The stones vary in size with the tallest measuring 2.3 metres high. They are arranged in an almost perfect circle measuring about 30 metres in diameter.

        The big question is what do these stones represent and like most similar circles there is no definitive answer but there are several theories. The date of construction makes them one of the oldest known stone circles not only in Britain but in Western Europe and it is possible that there is a connection to the axe making activities that were prevalent in this region around 3200BC (late Neolithic/Early Bronze-Age period). Historians believe that these stones might have been a meeting point where the axes were traded. It is however certain that there were also religious and ritualistic significances too and during the Autumn Equinox the sunrise appears directly over the top of one of the nearby hills (called Threlkeld Knott) whilst other stones appear to be aligned to the lunar movements of the moon.

        The stones vary in shape and size but the unlike the tall upright rectangular shapes that we find at Stonehenge or Callanish the majority of these stones are round and quite small. You could be easily forgiven that this was a recent creation using local boulders from the nearby mountains. Visually there's nothing about these stones that are particularly interesting and their greatest appeal is in the mysteries and myths that surround them.

        There are no facilities around the Castlerigg Stone Circle but it is the sort of place that most visitors won't spend particularly long at and Keswick is only a couple of kilometres down the road. I was here less than 20 minutes and I'd suggest that sort of time is sufficient. You could of course bring a picnic and spend much longer here but there are many more local places that are better for that.

        In summary I am glad that I visited these stones but I wouldn't consider visiting them again. As a minor detour en route elsewhere however I would recommend them to others as a one off experience.

        Access to the whole area is free and charge and there are no restrictions on visiting hours. The stones are managed by English Heritage.

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          26.10.2008 11:57
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          stone circle in Cumbria

          I am lucky enough to live within a short drive of the Lake District in Cumbria. It is an area I love and would not consider living anywhere else. One of the places I love to visit is the mysterious Castlerigg stone circle near Keswick.

          The Castlerigg stone circle is a prehistoric stone circle built around 3200 BC. It consists of 38 stones with the largest being about 8 feet tall. The circle is over 100 feet in diameter. To the east of the circle is a small rectangle going into the main circle consisting of about 10 stones. Like other stone circles no one really knows why this one was built but there is speculation that it had something to do with astrology. Although the site was excavated in the 19th century nothing much was found here.

          The setting of the Castlerigg stone circle is stunning. I have visited at all times of the year but have to say the winter is my favourite time to visit. In summer the place can be over run with tourists. On a cold winters day with snow on the ground there is nowhere quite like this magical place however. The circle is situated on a low hill with fantastic views of Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Blencathra.I am always struck by how the circle blends perfectly with its surroundings.

          Getting there.
          **********
          It is not difficult to find the circle, as it is well signposted from Keswick. From Keswick you will need to take the track at the end of station road. It is sign posted to Threlkeld. It is an easy 11/2-mile walk to the top of the small hill where you will find the circle.

          There is a train station in Penrith. From here the x 4/5 bus runs to Keswick.

          Castlerigg stone circle is 16 miles from Penrith and 1 11/2 miles east of Keswick.

          Castlerigg stone circle is open all year. The land is owned by the National Trust but the circle itself is owned by English heritage. It is free to enter.

          If you are in the area then a visit to Castlerigg stone circle is well worth the effort. Even better if you can visit out of the busy summer season!

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            08.05.2001 02:11
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            CastleRig Stone Circle I found this stone circle when I was riding the Coast to Coast ride for the first time, I had never heard of it before, in fact the only Stone Circle I had heard of was StoneHenge. Whilst not on the same scale as Stonehenge, this is a very impressive site, not least due to its magnificent mountainside settings. The circle itself is located on a hill 200 metres above Keswick, inside a much larger circle of fells and are shared with sheep as well as the curious public. First written about in the Eighteenth century by William Stukely who believed the were a druid temple, then later they inspired John Keets to write "like a dismal cirque of druid stones, upon a forlone moor" in his poem Hyperion. Locals to this day still refer to the circle as the Druid circle. Ironically the circle is not actually a perfect circle, as it is slightly flattened on its north east side, but to the casually observer it looks circular enough. The largest of the 48 stones is 2.3 metres high and weighs around 15 tonnes, with the average stone being around 1 metre high and around 2.25 tonnes.The South East side contains a feature not found in other stone circles, that of a rectangular enclosure made out of 10 of the stones, the exact purpose of which, like the circle itself is unknown. It is thought that the circle is around 5000 years old, making it one of the earliest of its kind, and it is also thought that the smallest possible team of people to construct it would have been around 70 men working in several groups. Although many circles have been used as primarily as burial grounds, it is not so here, although there is a mound within the circle that may have been used for burial purposes. No one is sure if the circle was used for astronomical purposes, allowing alignment of stars and planets through the stones, but it is thought that at times the circle was used for a trading place for ax
            es. Pagan rituals and sacrifices may have been carried out within the circle, but no evidence of this has been located yet. The circle will have been used for religious ceremonies, tribal gatherings and bartering. Apparently the stones were deposited on the hill rather a long time ago - during the last Ice Age - so not only is the circle old - the stones are even older (around 14, 000 years) Although recently closed due to foot and mouth (check to see if it has been re-opened if you plan to visit), the site is still viewable from the roadside, but it is much better when you can walk right upto and even sit on a stone. Whatever the reason for the circle, whatever purpose it was used for, it is an impressive site, and makes the mind boggle at how 5000 years ago, such a large fete of engineering could be accomplished - its hard enough cycling up the hill - never mind moving stones weighing 15 tonnes!! Entrance is FREE by the way - but there is a donation box at the entrance to help support the National Trust who maintain the site.

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