The largest stone circle in the north of England. The third largest stone circle in England.
It primarily consists of 59 stones (of which 27 remain upright) set in an oval shape measuring 100m by 93m There may originally have been as many as 70 or more stones. Long Meg herself is a 3.6m high monolith of red sandstone 18m 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.
Records from the early 17th century suggest that there were as many as 77 megaliths then.
Long Meg is composed of local red sandstone, whereas her daughters are boulders of rhyolite, a form of granite, some of them weighing as much as thirty tonnes. Two of the biggest stones stand opposite each other to the east and west, and two huge stones mark a southwest entrance.
The setting midwinter sun is aligned with the column stone of Long Meg.
Aubrey Burl has argued that Meg is from an earlier period than the stone circle and is possibly an unrelated Neolithic menhir (single tall stone).
Tradition states that Long Meg and Her Daughters were a coven of witches who were holding their sabbat, some time in the thirteenth century. Michael Scot, a wizard from Scotland, found them so engaged and cast a spell over the assembled company, turning them all into stones.
Another legend states that if you walk around the circles and count the number of stones correctly, then put your ear to Long Meg, you will hear her whisper.
The name itself it said to come from a local witch, Meg of Meldon, who was alive in the early 17th century. Another theory suggests that the stone was named after another 17th century legend about Long Meg of Westminster, a giantess who was traditionally buried under a large blue gravestone at Westminster Abbey. The stone actually marks the burial place of monks who died during the Black Death. Another snippet of folklore tells how the standing stone will bleed if it is damaged.
On the trees within the circle small gifts and offerings can be found.
Another circle Little Meg is 640 metres away. Look at the StreetMap link below to the east just under half a mile.
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