Witches Turned to Stone – The Folklore Behind the Countries 2nd Biggest Stone Circle
Spanning over 350 ft Long Meg and her Daughters is a Stone Circle complex nestled into the sleepy village of Hunsonby. When it comes to Stone Circles in English folklore, there are normally three main different kinds of superstition behind them.
Example one is petrifaction, to turn to stone. Example two is uncountable stones, meaning you can never count the same number of stones twice. And finally, example three is the association with severe weather.
This Stone Circle appears to hold all three superstitions.
Long Meg herself is a large monolith standing 12ft high with three prehistoric, Cup, and Ring markings that face towards the Stone Circle. Legend has it that ‘Meg’ was a 17th-century local Witch, and the other stones (Her Daughters) were part of her coven. They would perform rituals, dances and make an offering to their gods of the occult.
The 17th century was not a great time to be a witch. Practicing Witchcraft was made a capital offence in the previous century. The most notorious Witch Trail of the 17th century was that of the Pendle Witches which took place in the neighbouring county of Lancashire.
The Pendle Witches were marched up to Lancaster Castle, in Lancaster where they would be imprisoned and executed. Meg’s coven was decidedly practicing Witchcraft in the countryside in fear of persecution and execution.
Unfortunately for Megs coven, a Scottish Wizard Michael Scott discovered them profaning the sabbath on the moor and he turned them all to stone. Interestingly enough Michael Scott, Mathematician, Alchemist, and court Astrologer to Fredrick II had a premonition that a small stone would strike him in his head and kill him.
He wore an iron skullcap to avoid his death. However, he removed the cap in church, only to be struck by a stone and die.
Perhaps, this was Long Meg getting her revenge...
One of the main superstitions behind Long Meg is that if the major Stone (long Meg herself) was to be damaged then this stone would bleed!
There is a story that tells of a local landowner Colonel Lacy who had allegedly heard that ancient and wonderful treasures were buried under long Meg.
He organised his workers to set dynamite to blow up the stone and gather the treasures that purportedly lied beneath. Before Lacy and his men could set the fuses a fearful and raging storm suddenly came from nowhere and the men scattered for shelter and all attempts were abandoned.
Standing just over a third of a mile away from Long Meg and her daughters is Cumbria’s smallest stone circle little Meg which is once believed to be a Cairn (A manmade pile of stones), which are usually found at the peak of mountains and fells.
On the main stone, you can find geometrical carvings – consisting of a spiral and five concentric circles. These prehistoric markings can only be found at neighbouring Long Meg and Glassonby Stone Circle in Cumbria, no other Stone Circles in Cumbria have these markings.
William Wordsworth, Cumbrian Romantic Age poet of the 18th century once wrote of the stones: “Next to Stonehenge it is beyond dispute the most notable relic that this or probably any other country contains”
Long Meg and her Daughters is a must-visit for anyone interested in the occult and folklore.
If you pay Long Meg a visit, try walking around the Stone Circle and counting all the stones correctly, if you do, supposedly the spell will be broken and you can hear Meg’s whisper from the monolith or it will bring very bad luck.