My only 'old stone' site of the day - if you don't count Roman as old (far too modern!)
Access as before. The field grass is very long and there were no animals present. The sun was breaking through the clouds but the wind was quite cold. There are good views to be had. Hadrian's Wall to the north (with several walkers in presence) and sweeping valley views to the south.It is windswept and bleak here, but bleak in a good way (although I wouldn't want to spend a night out here - even n summer!)
As for the stones, they seem to be as I remember them. The taller stone about 1.7m high, the smaller stone about 1m high. Both stones seem to be on an oval bed of stones sticking out of the grass. Odd thing is they look very similar to the size and shape of the stones of the famous wall. Perhaps it is just my imagination?
Easy to spot on the B6318 which runs parallel to Hadrian's Wall – just west of the Twice Brewed pub. I parked on the verge of the minor road next to the site and delicately hopped over the barbed wire fence. It is only a short, but boggy walk up to the stones. The standing stones are about 1.5 metres tall and stand close together. After spending a day looking at Roman sites it made a nice change to visit a really 'old stone'! Despite the closeness of the road this site felt quite remote.
Easy to access and well worth a visit when in the area.
I had the opportunity to visit the Mare and Foal on 18 June 2006. Unfortunately the weather was wet and I couldn't spend as much time there as I would have liked. I noticed that when I stood to the south, the two stones lined up with two gaps in the hills to the north. I would be interested in returning sometime with a good compass and try to determine if the sun would rise between the two of them on a particular date (perhaps lighting the flat rock that lies between them), or asking if there is something particularly important about marking the two gaps from that position.
I've taken a photo of the stones slightly off center to show the two gaps where they lined up.
These two are in an excellent spot, overlooking the Whin Sill at Caw Gap, where it's possible to get through the crags. It would presumably have been a mian route from north to south in the times before the Wall was built. Good views downover to the Maiden Way.
There are supposed to be underground socket holes, but the site hasn't been excavated. The immediate area is festooned with nettle patches which could be the signs of these holes. It would have been a small circle, the two stones are 4.5m apart, and look like they would have been on opposite sides of the circle, as they face each other.
There are many small cobbles, which could be anything or nothing, and the third stone, which was standing in the 18thC, is lying a few yards away.
The area has been well and truly trashed throughout the centuries, it's lucky that these two still stand. Not suitable for those with mobility issues, due to fences, and highly uneven marshy ground, even though it's close to the road.
Sadly, the burial mound in the nearby field is now gone, only a cropmark remains.
Found this yesterday after spending a couple of hours tramping on Hadrian's Wall - thought I would go for something pre-Roman for an hour! Couldn't cut across the field from the gate, due to it being full of attack cows(!), so we walked round, clambered over a wall and trudged up a hill, to get to it. It was the most amazing day - big sky, sun shining and wind blowing.
I really loved this site but had no knowledge of it having been part of a bigger circle. It seemed perfect as it was, so will choose to believe it was intended to be just 2 stones, mirroring the opposite hill!
Passed this site on my way home, the sun was just going down after a beautiful clear day. Hadrian's wall is situated to the north of this site; the whole of this area is fantasically open-skied and remote [not far from where the bit in Prince of Thieves was filmed, movie fans ;-) ].
I didn't read the previous information posted here before my visit so I couldn't possibly comment on it's origins as a circle: but I took it as a pair of stones and the setting was lovely: Just on top of high ground within a valley which is naturally sheltered, with views to the west to the Solway Firth.
There seemed to be "earthwork" trenches immediately beside the site; anyone know anything about these?
More than one of the fieldnotes above mentions the Caw Gap above the stones. Well, just by the gap is the 'Bogle Hole':
It was in the immediate vicinity of Bogle Hole that during one of my earliest visits I was told by a countryman of superhuman appearances there, of the huntsman's dogs turning back from the pursuit of animals which were something more than what they seemed to be, and of a man who in trying to fly from a high crag was killed, as we might have supposed he would be; but my informant did not attribute his fate to want of skill in the means he had adopted for his flight, but solely from his having neglected to make an offering of barley-cake to the rocks [..]
- Charles Roach Smith's Retrospections, Social and Archaeological, vol. i. p.181.
From Notes, Queries, Notices and News
The Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 1, No. 7. (Jul., 1883), pp. 226/7.
This must be an early mention of the stones. (The fact there's still three at the time fits with the older name for the place mentioned in the other miscellaneous post).
We now continue our course from the bridge over Haltweselburn on the military road for near a quarter of a mile, when on the left hand, on the ridge of a hill, we have a view of three upright pillars of whin-stone, two of them broken off towards the middle. Some persons imagine they were set up for rubbing-stones for cattle, but they stand too close together for that end; and, besides, the setting up more than a single stone in one place for that use is not known to have been ever practised. As those at Little Salkeld, in Cumberland, are called Long Meg and her Daughters, so these here are called The Mare and her two Foals. The former are acknowledged to be British. The latter are most likely of the same origin, religious and funereal memorials.
On the north side of the present military way, between the 33rd and 34th milestone, two unhewn blocks, one of basalt, about 6 feet high - the other lower, and of sandstone, stand very conspicuously on a ridge of ground which has been artificially heightened for a small distance around them. They are now called the Mare and Foal; but on Armstrong's map, which was published in 1769, "The Three Stones."
Found in 'A History of Northumberland' by John Hodgson. p291, pt2, vol3. 1840. Online at Google Books.