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Long Meg & Her Daughters

In local mythology, this stone circle near Penrith is said to have come about when Scottish wizard Michael Scott came across a coven of witches during their sabbath. Casting a spell over the whole assembly, he turned them all into stone. Long Meg & Her Daughters were described by William Wordsworth as "next to Stonehenge, beyond dispute, the most notable relic that this or probably any other country contains."

Although only 27 of the stones are still standing, there are a further 32 toppled of what is thought to have been about 70 stones in the original circle. That makes this the third biggest stone circle in Britain and the sixth largest in the world. In 1988 aerial photography revealed an earth mound that extended north of the circle, presumably part of the original scheme.

Most impressive is the 12-foot sandstone boulder, standing 60 feet outside and south-west of the circle, marking the alignment of the midwinter solstice. With a ring mark, a spiral and an incomplete concentric circle on the flat surface facing the stone circle (which are the "daughters"), this is Long Meg herself. There is a smaller circle nearby that has become known as Little Meg.

Legend has it that if Long Meg herself is ever broken, she will run with blood. Another traditional belief is that you can never properly count the number of stones. Every time you try, you get a different number, and if you ever do get the same total, Scott's spell will be reversed and the witches will spring back to life...

Long Meg, with her Daughters behind, near Little Salkeld, Cumbria

Long Meg & Her Daughters Information


When: Daily

Where: Penrith

Cost: Free

Opening Hours:

Address: Little Salkeld, Penrith, CA10 1NW

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