Guest writer NICKY COULBECK describes her spooky visit to the Bronze Age stone circle in Cumbria, known as “Long Meg and Her Daughters”
Travelling through the small village of Little Salkeld, Near Penrith, we happened upon the stone circle known as Long Meg and Her Daughters. And decided to pay her a visit.
There is much legend and folklore written about the strange goings on here. So we were of course intrigued.
Legend tells that Long Meg and her Daughters were a coven of witches. In the thirteenth century, A Scottish Wizard, Michael Scott, found the witches in the midst of pagan worship. He is said to have cast a spell over them, turning them all to stone.
There is also a story that when once a local squire attempted to remove the stones, a terrifying storm broke out and he was forced to leave the stones untouched.
Long Meg herself is a beautiful carved red sandstone monolith around twelve feet in height. She has marvellous spiral carvings engraved on her sides. She stands some way away from the other stones, looking over, dominating , a Matriarchal beacon.
The other 69 stones are bisected by a farm track, sprawled over a large field. I say 69 but legend also says that the stones are uncountable and if the same number can be counted twice, Michael Scott’s spell will be broken and the witches released from their stony slumber.
We arrived late one sunny morning and were the only people there. The atmosphere felt heavily charged with a magical, surreal energy.
As we explored, I looked around Long Meg. She stood there in the sunshine and I noticed at her feet lay offerings. Fruit, pounced upon by greedy wasps, ribbons, money, candles, piles of ash (looking eerily like cremation remains! ). I felt as if we had intruded on a party, a gathering, some unfinished business which was not meant for us. The story goes that if Long Meg is ever shattered, she will run with blood. Standing there then, it didn’t seem so farfetched. There was an alive quality within the circle. It breathed and pulsed with life.
The trees around the circle glistened with multicoloured ribbons and parcels, suspended from the branches, blowing in the wind. Tied there by unknown people for reasons known only to themselves.
We spent some time there, wandering around, exploring, until a local girl on horseback arrived, cantering through the stones. The whole place was silent apart from the sound of thundering hooves. It felt like a warning, a time for us to leave.
We left the place with a strange sense that we had intruded on something not quite known. But with a compelling feeling that one day, we must go back.
NICKY COULBECK, a social worker from Lincolnshire, loves all things spooky. You can find her on Twitter here.