Castlerigg Stone Circle is one of the most remarkable prehistoric monuments in England. It’s situated on a remote hill near Keswick with fantastic views of Skiddaw and Blencathra.
Local folklore says that it is impossible to count the number of stones in the circle and each try will result in a different answer. Counts range from 38 to 42 and depend on whether small packing stones used during the construction of the circle are included. The circle is slightly flattened on the eastern side and within it is a rectangle of a further 10 stones.
The stones are Borrowdale volcanic stone, brought to the area by glaciers during the last Ice Age. They would have been dragged onto the site on log rollers and then levered into prepared holes, which were then packed with soil and supporting stones.
Two stone axes and a stone club found close to the circle in the 18th century suggest that it was built in the Neolithic Era, around 3000 BC.
The circle became a popular tourist attraction in Victorian times and many visitors chipped fragments from the rocks to take home as souvenirs. Early conservationists realised the circle was under threat campaigned for its protection, resulting in it becoming one of England’s first schedule ancient monuments in 1882.
Years later, Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust, organised a public subscription to purchase the site. The campaign was successful and in 1913 it was donated to the National Trust.
Admission to Castlerigg Stone Circle is free. A leaflet detailing an excellent walk to the circle can be purchased from the Keswick Tourist Information Centre.
Castlerigg Stone Circle is situated approximately 1 mile east of Keswick town centre. To reach it, take the Penrith Road out of Keswick (signposted for the M6 and Penrith). After driving for ¾ mile bear left (still on the Penrith Road), following the brown tourist signs for Castlerigg Stone Circle. After 50 yards bear right and follow the road for ½ mile. The circle is on the right. Free car parking is available in a layby near the gate to the field. Satellite navigation owners should find the postcode CA12 4RN takes them close to the circle.
The Caldbeck Rambler bus (service 73/73A) from Keswick calls at Castlerigg Stone Circle. It runs on Saturdays throughout the year and every day in the summer.