I'm so enjoying our visits to stone circles and, of particular interest for me, are the literary and historical connections. Our day out took us to Long Meg and Her Daughters, Glassonby Stone Circle, Mayburgh Henge, King Arthur's Round Table and, finally, Brougham Castle.
|Jacob Thompson The Druids Cutting the Mistletoe, with Long Meg in the background
William Wordsworth wrote of Long Meg and Her Daughters "next to Stonehenge it is beyond dispute the most notable relic that this or probably any other country contains".
In 1822 he wrote:
The Monument Commonly Called Long Meg
A weight of Awe not easy to be borne
Fell suddenly upon my spirit, cast
From the dread bosom of the unknown past,
When first I saw that family forlorn;
Speak Thou, whose massy strength and stature scorn
The power of years – pre-eminent, and placed
Apart, to overlook the circle vast.
Speak Giant-mother! tell it to the Morn,
While she dispels the cumbrous shades of night;
Let the Moon hear, emerging from a cloud,
At whose behest uprose on British ground
That Sisterhood in hieroglyphic round
Forth-shadowing, some have deemed the infinite
The inviolable God that tames the proud.
The poet Michael Drayton wrote of the stones in Poly-Olbion (1612):
After Long Meg we moved onto Glassonby Stone Circle. W G Collingwood, Ruskin's biographer and antiquary, excavated the stones of Glassonby Stone Circle. Glassonby stone circle is a short distance north west of the village of Glassonby, and just over one mile to the north of Long Meg and her Daughters. The circle of continuous stones is on a raised mound, which extends beyond the base of the stones. Until they were excavated by W.G.Collingwood in 1900, the stones were covered by the mound.
Finally, for our stone circle exploration we visited Mayburgh Henge. I'm not a great admirer of very modern verse, but I do love this poem by Heather Lane published in a wonderful collection Places of Poetry:
make the circle here?
And who agreed
a thousand thousand,
from the river?
Whose choice this point
Of water and light,
For the living and dead
white and black and red.
You cannot choose
but place your hands
on the centrestone -
its hurtful fellows gone
for gate posts and thresholds;
their myths downtrodden,
Its voice drowned
by the roar
I'm amazed how many literary connections with these three stone circles. So, I'll post separately about King Arthur's Round Table and Brougham Castle!