The Circle is Unbroken

Ring cairn looking down Oxendale

Ring cairn overlooking Oxendale

While winter snows lie outside its spring at Whorneyside ring cairn! There are numerous prehistoric monuments found throughout the Cumbrian Fells, some the subject of this blog, can be classified as embanked ring cairns with some confidence whilst others are more difficult to fit into existing typologies. Many of these are smaller more ephemeral structures that often occur in close proximity with the more definable ring cairns.

Whornyside ring cairn

Whornyside ring cairn

These tend to be sited high up in the coombes of the fells generally from 400-500m AOD

Whornyside ring cairn, plan and reconstruction

Whornyside ring cairn, plan and reconstruction

With an eye of faith we can see how this cairn may have looked when constructed.

Ring cairn, Great Castle How

Ring cairn, Great Castle How

Here at Castle How above Grasmere we can see a structure of the same diameter and construction with a more “traditional” stone banked ring cairn in the distance across the valley.

Greenburn Bottom ring cairn

Greenburn Bottom ring cairn

The neighboring valley of Greenburn also contains similar structures, this time orthostats are still extant with what may be a cairn central to the circle.

Brenig ring cairn

Brenig ring cairn

At Llyn Brenig in North Wales, an area with numerous excavated Bronze Age monuments  this ring cairn is on a much greater scale, perhaps reflecting the population of that locale.

Broken Spectre, Skiddaw

Broken Spectre, Skiddaw

Whilst out on Skiddaw the other day I was followed for half a mile by the Broken Spectre, it got me wondering what prehistoric people made of this phenomenon that we can now explain through physics.

Whympers vision on descending the Matterhorn

Whymper’s vision on descending the Matterhorn

Even as recently as 1865 Edward Whymper descending the Matterhorn with his remaining companions, in his heightened state of anxiety following the death of three of his team,  interpreted the Broken Spectre as a vision.

Modern ring cairn Scoat Fell

Modern ring cairn Scoat Fell summit

People still build in the round on mountain tops.

Whorneyside ring cairn and PikeO'Blisco

Whorneyside ring cairn and Pike O’Blisco

Perhaps it’s the place we find ourselves in.

Notes

There is a fine trail to be followed round various Bronze Age monuments at LLyn Brenig: http://www.cpat.org.uk/walks/brenig.pdf

These were excavated by Frances Lynch in the 1970’s and are published in a monograph, the typologies are based on this work and many other sites are discussed here: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/20567822?uid=3738032&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21105668461373

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