Everything you need to know about visiting the mysterious Castlerigg Stone Circle

Castlerigg Stone Circle Guide

Castlerigg Stone Circle is an epic Neolithic monument in the Lake District national park. Its picturesque setting amongst the northern fells make the stone circle one of the most magical stone circles in England. Every year thousands of tourists travel to Castlerigg stone Circle. This is the ultimate guide to visiting Castlerigg Stone Circle to help you have the most magical visit.

Where is the Castlerigg Stone Circle?

The Castlerigg Stone Circle is just outside of Keswick in Cumbria close to the English Scottish border. The Stone Circle is located within the Lake District National Park.

As you approach the Stone Circle you enter a natural amphitheatre. The surrounding hills frame the circle perfectly creating a truly spectacular setting. From the Circle you can see into Borrowdale, admire the northern beauties of Skiddaw and Blencathra as well as spot Helvellyn in the distance.

To reach the Castlerigg Stone Circle, there is free albeit limited parking at the circle. Alternatively you can walk to Castlerigg stone circle from the centre of Keswick which takes around half an hour.

What is the Castlerigg Stone Circle?

Early morning autumn sunshine at Castlerigg Stone Circle

The Castlerigg Stone Circle is an ancient monument comprised of boulders in a rough circle shape.

The stones themselves are made from volcanic rock. The boulders came from the surrounding Borrowdale valleys.

The stones at Castlerigg are arranged in a circle with the widest point measuring 32.6m and the narrowest at 29.5m. archaeologists believe that the circle was built in around 3200 BC making it one of the earliest stone circles in Britain. No one is entirely sure why the Castlerigg Stone circle was built or what the stones align to. Some believe that the stones align to the midwinter sunrise and various lunar positions yet within the stone circle is a further mystery – 10 stones are arranged in a rectangular fashion. This feature disrupts some of the alignments making this stone circle a fascinating find.

© Achaeology Data Service

When you visit the Castlerigg Stone circle you can enter through the 3m gap in the northern part of the circle which may have been the original entrance. Once you have entered the circle you must try to count the stones. It is said that it is impossible to accurately count the stones at Castlerigg Stone Circle. Every attempt will result in a different answer! Although the official answer on the National Trust information board says that there are 40 stones. When you are wondering around the stones you can imagine what this circle was built for.

Whilst there are many stone circles in the UK, archeologists have no conscensious for what they were built for. With the Castlerigg Stone circle, many believe it may have been a trading point. Axes created in nearby Langdale were famous in Neolithic times. The circle may have served as a meeting place where these axes were traded. These treasured tools may have not just been practicular but may have served as part of rituals.

Whatever you believe the stone circle was built for, you are bound to be captivated by the landscape as poets, writers and painters before you.

One of William Wordsworth’s friends Samuel Taylor Coleridge visited Castlerigg and described the magical site as:

a Druidical circle [where] the mountains stand one behind the other, in orderly array as if evoked by and attentive to the assembly of white-vested wizards”.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

A wonderfully romantic and dark description of the stone circle was written by a Mrs Ann Radcliff. She describes the setting and atmosphere of the Castlerigg Stone circle wonderfully.

There is, perhaps, not a single object in the scene that interrupts the solemn tone of feeling impressed by its general character of profound solitude, greatness, and awful wildness. Castle-Rigg is the centre point of three valleys that dart immediately under it from the eye, and whose mountains form part of an amphitheatre, which is completed by those of Borrowdale on the west, and by the precipices of Skiddaw and Saddleback, close on the north. The hue which pervades all these mountains is that of dark heath or rock; they are thrown into every form and direction that fancy would suggest, and are at that distance which allows all their grandeur to prevail. Such seclusion and sublimity were indeed well suited to the dark and wild mysteries of the Druids.”

Mrs Ann Radcliff

It seems that many have been captivated by the magical site and the site made it as one of the first monuments to be protected in Britain. Castlerigg stone Circle was included in the Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882. This act protected just 68 sites in Great Britain and Ireland. Nowadays, the responsibility and maintenance for the stone circle remains with English Heritage, and the site belongs to the National Trust.

Look after the stones, do not leave litter or graffiti so that generations after you can enjoy the epic Castlerigg Stone Circle too.

How much does it cost to visit the Castlerigg Stone Circle?

One of the best things about visiting the Castlerigg Stone Circle is that it is free! It does not cost anything to enter the site or to park next to the stone circle.

The site is owned by English Heritage but they do not charge to visit. It does not cost anything to visit the Castlerigg Stone Circle!

When is the best time of year to visit the Castlerigg Stone Circle?

Given the dramatic location of the Castlerigg Stone Circle different seasons create different experiences at the stone circle. In summer the breeze is pleasant on the open fells and long daylight hours give you plenty of time to get that perfect lake district Instagram shot. Autumn provides visitors with vibrant colours and winter offers a sprinkling of snow across the stones. Regardless of what time of year you visit, you will not fail to be impressed by the ancient monument. Just make sure you wrap up if you visit during the colder months as the site is very exposed!

When is the best time of day to visit the Castlerigg Stone Circle?

Sunrise and sunset at Castlerigg Stone circle are particularly spectacular. Watching the early morning sun rise above the hills is quite magical.

Can I bring my dog to the Castlerigg Stone Circle?

You can bring your dog to the castlerigg Stone Circle. Furry friends are welcome to explore the stones too!

Can I fly a drone above the Castlerigg Stone Circle?

You can fly a drone above the Castlerigg Stone circle. There are some wonderful videos on Youtube showing drone footage of this stone circle in the Lake District.

Are there more Stone Circles in the Lake District National Park?

Around 3000 years ago there were around 1300 stone circles across the British Isles and as far as Brittany. There are several stone circles in Cumbria, although archaeologist Waterhouose commented that Castlerigg was “one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain”. If you would like to see more stone circles in the area you can visit Swinside Stone Circle in the south of the lake district national park. There is another Stone Circle just 20 miles from the Castlerigg Stone Circle. Long Meg & Her Daughters is a stone circle in Penrith. It is said that if you walk around the stone circle and count all of the stones correctly the witch whom the circle was named after will whisper to you.

There are plenty of other stone circles in the Lake District such as Gunnerkeld, Birkrigg, Iron Hill & Glassonby.

How long should I spend at the Castlerigg Stone Circle?

You can spend between 5 minutes to an hour at the stone circle. Depending on what time of day you go and how busy the site is you can decide how long to stay there. Photographers may wish to spend longer taking photos of the rocky stones and grand Lakeland location. You could have a picnic up there on a fine day but it can get very windy on the exposed fell.

I wore my Organic Basics leggings during our trip in October. They helped keep me warm and if you fancy owning your own pair of recycled nylon leggings you can use my code AVEGANOB for 10% off!

Where can I stay near the Castlerigg Stone Circle?

There are plenty of places to stay in Keswick or in nearby Penrith. Check out the booking.com map below. Remember if you book by using our link you help support My Travel Scrapbook at no extra cost to you!

Booking.com

If you are a vegan check out this post about vegan accommodation in the Lake District.

Would you like to visit Castlerigg Stone Circle?

Have you been inspired to visit the Castlerigg Stone circle? Would you like to visit this magical site in the Lake District? Let us know in the comments below if you would like to visit Castlerigg Stone Circle!

2 Replies to “Everything you need to know about visiting the mysterious Castlerigg Stone Circle”

  1. I had no idea there were ANY stone circles in the Lake District! I’ve only been once and just for a long weekend but I’d dearly love to go back one day and I’ll definitely be making a visit here. Sunrise must be magical there! I remember taking an early morning walk on my last day at the lakes and it really was a fabulous time for photography.

  2. I concur with it being in a majestic and profound space. They certainly knew what they were invoking and in my opinion that was ‘awe and reverence’ for the universal forces present in our midst. It’s Mark – I said I would read your article about 1 week ago. Well, I enjoyed it and found it useful. I think people could of course spend an afternoon meditating with the stones as my brother Paul did at Avebury. Many thanks. All the best. Mark (Wye Explorer)

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