A round trip of Cumbria's scintillating stone circles
For a circular tour, you couldn't do better than Cumbria - if, that is, it's stone circles you're after. There are around 50 stone circles in the Lake District, including some of the earliest found in Britain, and each rewards a visit with its own distinctive qualities plus, in almost every instance, breathtaking views of England's finest scenery.
Castlerigg Stone Circle, near Keswick, is often described as one of the most dramatically impressive pre-historic monuments in Britain - and is certainly one of the most visited. There are 38 stones in a circle of about 30 metres in diameter, the tallest about 2.3 metres high, and the circle was probably built around 3000 BC for ceremonial or religious purposes.
Also in Cumbria's top three circles in Swinside Stone Circle in Broughton in Furness which comprises 55 stones set in a ninety-foot diameter circle - and completing the trio is Long Meg Stone Circle in Little Salkeld which has an impressive diameter of 350 feet, with the tallest of the 69 stones standing about 12 foot high.
There are still more than 45 stone circles to add to your itinerary after ticking off these three - but even then, you won't have run out of wonderful monuments to discover. There are, for example, many standing stones including the awesome Bowder stone near Keswick which is some 30 feet high, 50 feet across, and 90 feet in circumference.
Not all Cumbria's monuments, however, go back through history. Latter-day circles include an intriguing wooden henge at Skelwith Fold caravan park in Ambleside, designed by sculptor Kate Eveson and fashioned from oaks felled by the ferocious Cumbrian storms of 2005. Modern legend has it that the henge is modelled on an ancient fertility monument, and it is credited with a boom in conceptions among holidaymakers!
Another up-to-date take on sculpture can be found at Grizedale Forest which is home to the largest collection of site-specific art in the environment in the UK. The forest holds over 60 permanently sited artworks created by leading international artists in response to the landscape. Created over the past 30 years, Grizedale Sculpture is the first collection of its kind in Britain, and is being continually evolved.
See visitcumbria.com for more information.