Long Meg & Her Daughters Stone Circle :
One of the finest stone circles in the north of England, the circle has a diameter of about 350 feet, the second biggest in the country. Long Meg is the tallest of the 69 stones, about 12 feet high, with three mysterious symbols, its four corners facing the points of the compass and standing some 60 feet outside the circle.
The stones probably date from about 1500 BC, and it was likely to have been used as a meeting place or for some form of religious ritual. Long Meg is made of local red sandstone, whereas the daughters are boulders of rhyolite, a form of granite.
William Wordsworth wrote ‘Next to Stonehenge it is beyond dispute the most notable relic that this or probably any other country contains.’
The monument commonly called Long Meg
A weight of Awe not easy to be borne
Fell suddenly upon my spirit, cast
From the dread bosom of the unknown past,
When first I saw that family forlorn;
Speak Thou, whose massy strength and stature scorn
The power of years – pre-eminent, and placed
Apart, to overlook the circle vast.
Speak Giant-mother! tell it to the Morn,
While she dispels the cumbrous shades of night;
Let the Moon hear, emerging from a cloud,
At whose behest uprose on British ground
That Sisterhood in hieroglyphic round
Forth-shadowing, some have deemed the infinite
The inviolable God that tames the proud.
William Wordsworth 1822
Local legend claims that Long Meg was a witch who with her daughters, was turned to stone for profaning the Sabbath, as they danced wildly on the moor. The circle is supposedly endowed with magic, so that it is impossible to count the same number of stones twice, but if you do then the magic is broken.
Just over a third of a mile (0.5 km) to the North-East of Long Meg and her Daughters, the largest stone circle in Cumbria, is one of the smallest, appropriately named Little Meg.
Beneath the stones are the remains of the gypsum / anhydrite industries of the Long Meg Plaster and Mineral Co. Ltd..