The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Brat's Hill

Stone Circle


It's difficult for me to relate a visit to the five - count 'em - stone circles located upon this remote Cumbrian moorland plateau without descending into trite cliche. You know the sort of thing.... evoking Wagner's Tannhauser or something similar? But then again, just how do you adequately describe something so intangible - and yet, paradoxically, so real - that the medium of language, perhaps even in the peerless hands of a Shakespeare, cannot hope to convey? I guess there are just too many mutually dependant factors involved in forming the 'moment', complexities maybe a whisky blender or perfumer may be equipped to handle. But not I......

A heavily overcast dawn at Chapel Stile, Great Langdale precedes a never-less-than... er.... 'interesting' drive over the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes, the descent into Eskdale, past the Roman fortress of Mediobogdvm, not for the faint hearted. Or those with dodgy brakes. Probably safe to say that this Imperial outpost was not the most favoured of postings for your wannabe Roman citizen? But, hey, that was only yesterday. Well, two millennia ago... but I've even older 'things' on my mind.

Upon arrival at the tiny village of Boot, the label 'chocolate box' is so apt it has me reaching for a certain confectionary item lying temptingly upon the front seat. Go on, you know you want me. To be fair, despite the tourist tearooms, the charm isn't altogether illusory here, the cascading Whillan Beck crossed by a fine stone bridge. Beyond this, a wooden gate gives access to a VERY steep bridleway ascending the fell to the right, along what appears to be a dry stream bed. Probably rains a lot, then. Ha! The angle begins to ease as I approach some old stone buildings and emerge onto the moorland plateau beyond.

The first monument to emerge from the gloom is the Brat's Hill stone circle. Although somewhat - hell, marvellously - dishevelled, this is a gem and well worth the climb in itself in my opinion. The largest monument upon the moor and overlooked by a prominent rocky outcrop, Brat's Hill is particularly notable for the five kerbed cairns which occupy its interior, four clustered to the west and one standing isolated, aloof from the others, in the eastern sector. According to Burl - yes, himself - these cairns were excavated in 1827, the eastern cairn's kerb - now gone but like the others then comprised of fourteen orthostats - being described as a 'parallelogram of stones similar to that in the Keswick circle'... in other words, that'll be the enigmatic, still surviving 'enclosure' within Castlerigg, then.

So that's what the Castlerigg feature was/is. The kerb of a burial cairn. Or was it? Bearing in mind Thom thought the two circles very similar in design, I think I'd go with that, all things considered.... Yeah, suffice to say Brat's Hill sets the mind in flux, never a bad thing, I find. The weather's on the move, too, so I take a compass bearing and head towards the next of Burnmoor's linear treasures visible to the north-west.... the paired White Moss stone circles.
10th January 2011ce
Edited 11th January 2011ce

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