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The Druid’s Circle

The inner ring at The Druid’s Circle, at Birkrigg Common,
near Ulverston, in Cumbria.

We have been away, hence the somewhat patchy posts and lack of response to comments last week – you might as well be in outer space as far as Internet connections go in parts of Cumbria. Anyway, we are back home now and, hopefully, normal service has been resumed, and I have some holiday pictures which I’m planning to show you as Saturday Snapshots, including these, which were taken at the Druid’s Circle, at Birkrigg Common, which is near Ulverston, where Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy) was born.

Me, walking around the inside.

We usually stay up there once a year, because the Man Of The House comes from Barrow in Furness, and still has friends and relatives in the area. Barrow is a ship-building town, and is not at all beautiful, but it’s right at the top of Morecambe Bay, and the beaches are gloriously unspoilt, and it’s very close to the Lake District (it only takes 20 or 30 minutes to drive to Windermere). The countryside is just incredible – you have to see it to believe it – and the nearby towns and villages are lovely. 

A closer view of two of the stones.

 This year we did lots of walking, and went to some places I’d never seen before, including this stone circle, which was almost hidden by the bracken and is, so we were told, much more visible during the winter, when the ferns die back. The grass inside the circle is kept short, but around it is a sea of very dense, very tall bracken, with wide grassy walkways through it. It was very lonesome, very wild, and very windy, and these prehistoric remains look like some kind of strange fairy circle, with stones sprouting up around the rim where there would normally be mushrooms – and it’s on a slightly grander scale!

You can just see three of the stones in the outer ring,very
low down in the grass – almost at ground level.

It’s a double circle, with 12 very weathered small stones forming an inner ring. The stones in the outer ring are difficult to count, because they are somewhat scattered, and even more weathered, and even smaller than the others. The circle is only about 27ft in diameter across the greatest part of the outer ring, and is believed to date from the Bronze Age, possibly from around 2,000 years BC. Apparently fragments of human bones were found in an urn during an excavation carried out in the early 20th century, and evidence of ancient fires was also uncovered. However the site remains as mysterious as other stone circles, and its significance is unknown. I have tried to do some research, but there doesn’t seem to be much information available, and I can’t discover whether it aligns in any way with the sun, moon, planets or stars. Some of the stones do line up with the spire of Bardsea Church and Chapel Island, and I think there is at least one old trackway nearby, but I don’t know if Druid’s Circle lines up with any other features in the landscape, or whether there are ley lines or anything like that.

This is another of the outer circle stones, right up against
the bracken, which stretches far as the eye can see.

It does feel very mysterious, and I imagine sunrise and sunset would be quite spectacular up here, but it would be a bit spooky in the dark, as its very isolated, with no lighting. The view down the hill to Bardsea village, Seawood, Bardsea Beach and out across Morecambe Bay was amazing, and I walked around the inner and outer rings, and stood in the centre, and tried to examine the stones, but it wasn’t as peaceful as we expected, because a group of Scouts on an activity day were cooking soup on a little camp stove to one side of the circle. They were were very well behaved, and were no trouble, but they obviously thought I was nuts wandering round touching the stones! 

This was the view looking back over a gate as we walked up
to the stone circle. You can see Bardsea Church spire, and
Chapel Island, one of many tiny islands in Morecambe Bay.
There is a small road which runs up on to the common, quite near the stones, but it doesn’t seem to be used much, and we walked along minor roads, tracks, footpaths and bridleways, going up and up and up, until we thought we couldn’t go any further. It was tough going in places, because we are not really used to walking, and we are not very fit (our legs ached so much the next day), but we enjoyed looking at the wild flowers in the fields and hedgerows, and listening to the birds.  For more Saturday Snapshots see  Alice’s blog at http://athomewithbooks.net/

*Information in this post was taken from the booklet ‘Discovering Ulverston & Surroundings’ by Jeff Chambers.
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Author:

I'm a former journalist and sub-editor who loves needlework, reading and writing, and is still searching for the Meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything. Until I find the answer I'm volunteering at an Oxfam Book Shop and learning about Creative Sketchbooks!

32 thoughts on “The Druid’s Circle

  1. Oh Christine — terrific pictures.
    You remind me of a great book I read once, by M. Scott Peck. It was called In Search of Stones, and it's a travelog of his journeys in Wales — visiting the menhirs and dolmens and standing stones that are there, everywhere.

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  2. There's something so romantic about standing stones, maybe because I always think of that book The Outlander and how she went back in time through the standing stones. Maybe I have boring photos of Doritos because I don't take enough “holidays.” Here's Mine

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  3. Paulita, your picture wasn't boring – it made me think about the way we look things, especially food, and I've been around the house trying to take photos of things like soup, and jars of pencils! By the way, I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds standing stones romantic, although I've yet to read Outlander.

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  4. I think the Druid's Circle you mention is actually a different one. The one we visited ins in Cumbria, and the one you link to is in Gwynedd, which is in Wales – but they do look very similar. It gets very confusing, because quite a few stone circles are known as Druid's Circles, or Druid's Stones. Sorry!

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