Castlerigg Stone Circle

All photos are large files and can be clicked on for detail.

After dropping off some of our gear following the walk back from Lodore, we got back in the car for the short drive to Castlerigg Stone Circle, just outside the town of Keswick. Ever since I first saw Stonehenge as a child, I have always been very interested in such things, whether in large numbers as at Avebury, or in their use as Dolmen burial chambers, good examples of which can be found in Wales.

As we approached the site on the small access road, we were confronted by a large tourist coach coming our way. There was no chance of passing whatsoever, so I had to make a somewhat difficult reverse back the way I had driven. This went on for a considerable time, until we reached a place where I could pull off the road. There were no passengers in the coach, and I soon discovered why. Once we parked and got our boots on, it was apparent that despite the lateness of the hour, there were still large numbers of tourists around the site of the stones. Many of these had been dropped off by that coach, and we also discovered that some had walked there from a nearby campsite.

This site is very important, as it has been dated to 3,200 B.C. making it one of the earliest examples to be found anywhere in Europe. It is ideally located on high ground, surrounded by the local hills, with views as far as Skiddaw Mountain, to the north. The area is looked after by English Heritage, and entry is free. However, the archaeological importance and historical fascination of the stones seemed to have been of little concern to the other tourists there. They ran around in groups, joking and shouting. Many of them climbed onto the stones, to my shock and surprise. They posed on top of some larger stones, and sat around the central smaller group as if on chairs at home. This is a protected ancient monument, one of the most important in the world, yet many of these people (most in their twenties, or older) treated it like some sort of stone playground.

Unwilling to become embroiled in confrontation after a long and tiring day, we walked to the edge of the site, and waited for the groups to depart. There was no point even trying to take photos, as they were also very inconsiderate to others, refusing to move away from the stones even when it was obvious that other people were attempting to photograph them. Some girls who were not included in the group came over to make a fuss of Ollie. They were from Australia, and on a camping tour of the region. One remarked how hard it was to take photos here, due to the people being so thoughtless.

About thirty minutes after arriving, we finally got to take some photos.

This group of stones extends into the circle. Reading about them, it seems they are believed to be a place where stone axes were traded, and also buried, in some form of ritual during the summer solstice.
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The light was changing by the second here, affected by the clouds moving around the hills. An overview of the site was difficult to achieve, so I settled for shots of the stone ring in two sections instead. If you look at the bottom of the photo, you can see a brown lump. This is Ollie’s tail! He was supposed to be in the shot, but walked off as I pressed the shutter. I decided to leave it in!
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Turning around, I shot in the other direction.
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If you are interested to see more, search for the site on Google Images. There are some stunning seasonal shots there, as well as aerial photos.

Returning to Keswick, we commented on the sad behaviour of many of the other visitors that afternoon. Perhaps the answer is to make a charge to enter, and employ someone to supervise the tourists. It’s a shame that it might have to come to that one day.

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40 thoughts on “Castlerigg Stone Circle

  1. It looks like a great site but it’s sad that the visit was ruined by people who don’t know how to behave. I’m sure the original occupants were much more civilised than them… Ollie knows how to avoid cameras… I empathise with him.

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    1. My friend Antony managed to get lots of shots of Ollie. As the dog was sticking close to me, he didn’t notice him taking the photos! They will appear on here some time later, I am sure.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. Ah, Castlerigg! Went there nearly 4 decades ago in rather gloomy weather, and always meant to return…ah well! I love the setting of this one, way more atmospheric than Stonehenge (which as a child, I saw sans rope!)

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  3. I’ve never been to a spot like this, so I find it quite intriguing. As for the younger generation’s blatant disregard for natural formations and ancient monuments, it’s truly sickening. There are ancient petroglyphs in the Desert Southwest that have been forever damaged by young people who etch their names (often on either side of a heart) in the stone. Fortunately, some of the petroglyphs are so heavily frequented that people are not willing to take a chance on being called out, and others are off the beaten track.

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    1. There are many standing stone formations in the British Isles and Ireland, as well as more examples elsewhere in Europe. If you ever get back here, I am sure that you would enjoy seeing some of them.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. Beautiful pictures, Pete! And if I didn’t read the narrative I might guess you had the whole place to yourself! Unfortunately what you describe is not at all uncommon. A lack or respect or even common sense. I particularly hate it when wildlife is involved, such as the time I was on the Big Island of Hawaii admiring the resting sea turtles (honu) from the proper distance, and others would allow their small children to approach them, contrary to the well placed signs. I just don’t get it.

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    1. I waited out most of the other visitors, Susanne.
      As for people not showing respect, it has to be a generational thing, and lack of parental skills. Everything from bothering turtles, to gorillas having to be killed because someone’s child sneaks into the enclosure. It starts with throwing litter around at beauty spots, and ends with the defacing of monuments, or the death of innocent animals. Tragic.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  5. Nice! Even Ollie’s tale. I didn’t notice it until you pointed it out. Back the late 70s I visited Stonehedge for the first time and we were able to stroll in an out and hug the rocks if we wanted to. I was dismayed upon revisiting it in 1995 that it had been roped off. I guess since they’re rocks, who cares if you stand on one? So, no doubt they will be roped off, as well.

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    1. Over time, the stones at Stonehenge were seriously damaged by people climbing on them, and carving their names too. Rubbish was left around, and the site lost a lot of respect in the eyes of the modern generation. It has now been given a huge makeover, with a visitor centre, and better controlled access.
      http://www.thestonehengetour.info/new-stonehenge-visitor-centre

      Castlerigg is even older, so I think it should be treated with some due deference myself.
      You might find some better photos of the Lakes area in previous posts, Cindy.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s sad that people often seem to have zero respect for old sites like these.

    But while it’s annoying for people to stand around when you’re trying to take a picture, I think it’s also just as annoying to be expected to move while observing something because someone else wants to take a picture.

    It is strange that there aren’t people around to supervise the tourists, and monitor their behaviour though. Hopefully they fix that soon.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Alexis. I agree that people should not have to move for photographers just because they want to take photos. However, these people were joking around, not standing and appreciating the site. If they had been more respectful, their obvious refusal to move would have been more acceptable.
      Regards, Pete.

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  7. Are these about the same size as the stones at Stonehenge or smaller? I wanted to go to Stonehenge while there too but didn’t get to. The pictures you did take and shared with us are lovely, as is the grass it’s so green.

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    1. This site is much smaller than Stonehenge, Christina. However, it is also much older, and in a nicer location. Stonehenge is generally jammed with tourists, but they can only walk around it, not approach the stones.
      Green grass is a feature up there. It is all the rain the area gets that keeps it looking fresh.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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        1. Stonehenge is the most impressive by far. It is also significantly closer to London, and the southern coast. Unless you want to see the lakes and hills, Cumbria is too far north to travel to. Then again, it is close to your heritage in Scotland.
          As you can see from this link, Stonehenge still has the large stones across the top, which most other sites have lost down the centuries.
          http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stonehenge/things-to-do/#Section1
          It is also close to Avebury, one of the biggest circles of smaller stones. So you could see both!
          http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/avebury/history/
          Best wishes, Pete.

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  8. I just love how I get to enjoy 😊 visiting theses places without actually going there…

    I love ❤️ the tour Pete..
    I have always wanted to travel to different countries and have the experience of places I’ve never been..
    but.. I never had that opportunity..
    So I’m so glad 😁 to be able to see it through your eyes..
    it’s really a marvelous experience traveling with you..

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        1. I have altered the comments to remove the name references. When you receive a comment email from wordpress, it displays the details of the sender. I was being ‘chatty’, but should have considered your privacy.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. It’s all good Pete..
            I just never realized that my contacts info was available to the public… I have nothing to hide..

            Maxine is the name I used legally..
            Wendy and Nita is used for close friends and family members….

            I just never check my profile to notice that..
            I can always change it a my other emails.. if I don’t want it there..

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