Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Long Meg and Her Daughters

On a sodden expedition to one of the remarkable and enigmatic ancient marvels in the north of Englandā€”Long Meg and Her Daughters.

Long Meg, a towering 4-metre monolith of red sandstone, stands apart from her ‘daughters,’ which form a large circle.

Reportedly, there are approximately 68 daughter stones, erratics likely displaced from the Lake District by glacial action and deposited locally. The stones are thought to have been raised circa 2,500 BCE, a laborious task spanning several generations. Predating these stones by centuries was an extensive ditched enclosure on the northern side, now lost to sight.

According to legend, the stones were a gathering of witches transformed into stone by a Scottish wizard. It is rumoured that anyone counting an equal number of stones in both clockwise and anticlockwise directions will suffer a similar fateā€”petrification or the stones reverting to their witchly form.

Over time, it appears that some witches have managed to break free from the coven. The 1842 Black’s “Picturesque Guide to the English Lakes”Ā counts 67 stones, whileĀ The Denham Tracts of 1891 posits 77 stones, although I suspect the author may not have personally visited, relying instead on the account of three soldiers from Norwich who purportedly visited in 1634, describing “Stony Meg and her 77 daughters as hard-hearted as herselfe.”

This latter book also mentions the belief that the circle might commemorate a victory or the investiture of a Danish King, featuring two heaps of cairns within the circle, purportedly concealing human remains. However, we failed to spot any cairns.

On a more reliable note, during the winter solstice, the setting sun casts Long Meg’s shadow directly through the heart of the stone circle. It is conjectured that Neolithic people celebrated the solstice as a herald of lengthening days and the imminent arrival of spring.






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