|Long Meg and her Daughters are associated with several common pieces of megalithic folklore. The first (as with the Rollrights and Stanton Drew for example) explains the circle as people turned into stone for their sins. In this case, they were witches holding a sabbat, with the renowned 13th century Scottish Borders magician Michael Scott taking offence. However, although the people-to-stones idea is common, it seems Long Meg and her daughters is the only circle to made up of purely witches. Perhaps it is a product of paranoid times. 'Long Meg' was apparently a popular nickname in medieval times for any long slim object (like cannons) - this would be around the same time as the hysteria about witches.
In common with many other sites, the stones allegedly cannot be counted - though the first person to count them correctly twice in succession will break the spell and the stones will be turned back into witches. You've been warned.
Despite the story about witches, oerhaps the stones are literally 'Long Meg and her Daughters'; other stories have the circle as her lovers or her sisters. If a piece is chipped off Long Meg apparently she will bleed - rather like the elder at the King stone at the Rollrights.
Camden used a description by earliest Westmorland antiquarian (and headmaster of Appleby school) Reginald Bainbrigg, sent to him c 1600. This was the first time the name 'Meg and her daughters' or 'Long Meg' is recorded.
Besides Little Salkeld.. wher the Romaines have fought some great battle, ther standes certaine.. pyramides of stone, placed ther in the manner of a crown. They are commonlie called Meg with hir daughters. They are huge great stones, long meg standes above the ground in sight xv fote long and tre fathome about.
It's also reputed that the squared off sides of Long Meg are aligned to the points of the compass - but I must say I didn't have my compass when I visited - can anyone confirm?
Posted by Rhiannon
7th June 2002ce
Edited 26th July 2005ce