Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Justbod team!

 Merry Yule, Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Saturnalia, Waes Hael...!!

- however you celebrate this festive season, may it be joyous, magical, peaceful and full of blessings for you and yours!

Thank you for all your support throughout the year!
The Justbod Team


~ Justbod ~

Artwork, carvings and sculptures
~ inspired by history and nature ~

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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Long Meg & Her Daughters: Casting a Long Shadow

Long Meg and Her Daughters

As we approach the Winter Solstice, the shortest day, and the return of the sun, here's a few pictures from a frosty, bitterly cold day in late December a few years ago, with a winter sun just setting over the enigmatic and beautiful Long Meg....

"Long meg and her daughters - a Bronze Age stone circle near Penrith in Cumbria, North West England. One of around 1,300 stone circles in the British Isles and Brittany, it was consturcted as a part of a megalithic tradition that lasted from 3,300 to 900 BCE, during the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age. The stone circle is the sixth-biggest example known from this part of north-western Europe, being slightly smaller than the rings at Stanton Drew in Somerset, the Ring of Brodgar in Orkney and Newgrange in County Meath.

December sun setting over Long Meg, Cumbria
December sun setting over Long Meg

 It primarily consisits of 59 stones (of which 27 remain upright) set in an oval shape measuring 100m on its long axis. There may originally have been as many as 70 stones. Long Meg herself is a 3.6m high monolith of red sandstone 25m to the southwest of the circle made by her Daughters. Long Meg is marked with examples of megalithic art including a cup and ring mark, a spiral and rings of concentric circles.
Infra red aerial photography has identified several undated enclosures that seem to pre-date the Long Meg circle in the area. There is also the smaller stone circle of Little Meg (maughanby) close by." Wikipedia  

Long Meg and a half-moon
Long Meg with a half-moon just visible

Spiral Carving on Long Meg, Cumbria
Spiral Carving on Long Meg

Long Meg and Her Daughters
Some of Long Meg's Daughters

Long Meg and Her Daughters, Cumbria

These pictures were taken at the end of a beautiful and memorable 7 mile walk from Little Salkeld in the Eden Valley, a walk full of history and interest.

During the walk we had also visited Lacy's Caves near Glassonby: a romantic folly consisting of five chambers carved out of the red sandstone cliff above the River Eden. They were commissioned in the 18th century by Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Lacy (who lived in nearby Salkeld Hall and once infamously attemted to blow up Long Meg and Her Daughters. His attempt only failed as there was a violent thunderstorm just as the work started and his workers, fearing supernatural displeasure, downed tools and refused to continue.)

River Eden from Lacy's Caves Glassonby
View of River Eden from Lacy's Caves, Glassonby

The Colonel used the caves to entertain guests, and the surrounding area was originally planted with ornamental gardens. There is even a report that Lacy employed a man as a hermit to add that extra authenticity to the caves.

Lacy's Caves Glassonby
Lacy's Caves Glassonby
Also encountered on the walk is a  large kerbed cairn, the small cairn circle of Little Meg with it's spiraled rock art weirdly resembling two eyes, and then, along the processional trackway that leads directly from Little Meg to Long Meg, there is the interestingly positioned Addingham Church, which is at the halfway point of the trackway. A beautiful Anglo-Saxon hammer-head cross, a Viking cross and hog-back tombstone, being amongst the interesting features to be found within the Church and grounds.

Addingham St Michael & All Angels Church
Addingham St Michael & All Angels Church
A well preserved Anglo-Saxon hammer-head cross, with four holes and carved scrolls.

We walked this processional pathway just as the winter sun was setting over Long Meg, which was a beautiful and humbling experience, the timing of which we hadn't planned and only began to realise the significance of, as we walked into the beam of sunlight towards the distant circle of stones.

December sun setting over Long Meg & her daughters, Cumbria
December sun setting over Long Meg & her daughters

When we arrived at the circle, it struck us just how long the shadow of Long Meg was, resembling some kind of enormous sundial.

The Long shadow of Long Meg
The Long shadow of Long Meg

This was an amazing walk, incorporating some fascinating and magical sites with a truly moving experience of walking the processional approach to Long Meg at such a synchronistic time.

Long Meg & Her Daughters, Cumbria
Long Meg & Her Daughters, Cumbria

The walk comes from a fantastic book: 'Walks in Ancient Lakeland' by Robert Harris, which I would thoroughly recommend. I have visited a great many ancient sites in my time, and, earlier on in my history of visits, I most often used to park as close as possible, sometimes only a few hundred yards from the site I was visiting. The walks described in the book above take a completely different approach, which not only helps to place the monument within the wider context of its immediate environment, but is also, possibly, the way our ancient ancestors may have first experienced these awe-inspiring structures.

Walking away from Long Meg & Her Daughters, Cumbria
Walking away from Long Meg & Her Daughters, Cumbria
The sun had nearly disappeared by the time we trod the last few steps back to the car. A wonderful walk, do try it if you get the chance - either from the book mentioned, which has a lot of interesting information and drawings included in it, or via the link in the 'sources' section below, which is more or less the same walk (missing out Little Meg & the Cairn circle) from the Guardian Newspaper.

Happy Solstice!

Thanks for reading

Justbod Team 

Artwork, Carvings & Sculptures
~ inspired by history & nature ~


  You might also be interested in: 

  The Winter Solstice & The Rebirth of The Sun


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Specklebeast celtic art wall plaque from Justbod
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