|From the village I followed the footpath that crosses the railway and then follows a sunken trackway uphill. As I walked up through the rough pastures I was aware of Black Combe, this hill is huge but in my opinion its presence is almost benign. This massive, soft, whale-back of a hill has to compete with two other even larger presences, the sea in front of it and the central fells behind it. Never the less Black Combe looked marvellous and reminded me of Benarty in Fife, part of the landscape but not domineering.
What drew my eye from the hill was the gentle curve of the coast, the estuaries and of course, the sea. As I reached the top of the hill I was able to look along the coast over Millom, the Duddon estuary, Barrow, Walney Island, and across Morecambe Bay into Lancashire and on to North Wales, and as my eyes got used to the haze I was able to make out the faint profile of the Isle of Man on the horizon.
Once at the top of the hill the terrier and I made our way over to Lacra B. We found the circle quite easily. The circle is sat in knoll on the hillside, all around the circle are large outcrops of bedrock jutting out through the turf at forty five degrees almost as if they are defending the stone ring.
The circle is composed of low stones and has definitely seen better days. The largest stone is just over a metre tall. It's possible to make out the slight rise of the central cairn but the thing that gives this circle its charm is the views, again it's the Duddon estuary, the coast and the coastal plain that draw the eye with Black Combe still visible over the brow of the hill.
I sat down in the circle and thought about how the land was used in the past, the estuaries and coast would have been an attractive place to live, Early man would have found this a rich place to forage and hunt. Wildfowl, shellfish, fish and animals would have lived here in abundance. Later, the pastoralists and farmers would have found the fertile Cumbrian plain ideal for raising stock; the surrounding hills would have provided summer pastures, much as they do today. The fertile soils of the coastal plain would also be an ideal place to plant and raise crops, the rivers running off the hills would have ensured an abundance of clean, fresh water, the wooded slopes providing an almost endless supply of timber for building and fuel.
The coast would have also provided the opportunity for contact with others. Archaeological evidence shows us that people have been navigating these coasts since at least the Neolithic, this part of Cumbria would have been an ideal stopping-off point for those early navigators steering a course to and from Wales, the Isle of Man, Southern Scotland or Ireland and they may well have used Black Combe as a guide.
This post appears as part of the weblog entry The swift terriers bovine blues
Posted by fitzcoraldo
28th June 2008ce
Edited 29th June 2008ce