Strange, I must've been to Long Meg at least a dozen times over the last few years but I have never been to Glassonby before. Well, this weekend, I decided to rectify that and am really glad I did.
I spotted the site over the hedge as we drove out of the village - take the left hand fork at the village centre and the circle is in a field on your right hand side.
The grass was quite high and the approach is lovely; the centre of the circle was covered with blue bells. It is hard to photograph, other than on the approach, so I took a video. No sunlight = no shadows so I didn't see any rock art.
Now I realise quite how easy it is to get to, I'll come back on a better day and spend more time here. Lovely.
Winter solstice 2004
I had planned to watch the winter sunset at Long Meg and didn't want to stray too far away, so a visit to Glassonby was ideal for a pre-Meg visit.
I parked up at the bridge of the Glassonby Beck and then lingered a while to have my lunch and watch a zen heron on the banks of the beck working a lot harder than I was for his lunch.
It was a strange day, sunny and misty, more of an early summers day than midwinter, only the snow covered pennines reminded that winter had arrived. After a mooch up the hill to the field I wandered over to the circle. I reckon this must be the best time of the year to see the circle, the grass is low and the shadows are long, the circle looked beautiful.
I found the carved stone in no time at all but the carvings were a different matter. All I could see was the long linear feature that to be honest with you I would have written off for a plough scar. I then tried feeling for the peckings but found nothing at all. I was hoping to at least feel the chevrons but no joy. He's some fella that Stan Beckensall.
So all in all, this is a crackin' circle and well worth a visit. It's position on the same river terrace as the Long/Little Meg complexes make it even more significant and the fact that there is a possible terminal of a cursus monument and ring ditch in the same field, blows it up into a premier league site. Cursus-ring ditch-cairn circle-rock art, all implies some major continuity of use signifying a site of great importance.
The views across to the Pennines are the icing on the cake.
A easy site to find but not an easy place for parking. Leaving the village of Glassonby a road leads northwest past the gate into the field with the stones but it’s difficult to park without blocking the gate. 200-300 metres further on there is a sharp left bend in the road where there is some room on the right hand side, but it’s still a bit awkward. Carry on another couple of hundred metres and just as you get to the bridge over Hazelrigg Beck there is room on the left for 2 or three cars next to a footpath, from here walk (carefully, it’s quite busy) back up the road to the gate. Once in the field the ring of stones is easy to spot ahead and to your right.
When I got there it was heavily overgrown with grasses and various stinging plants and didn’t look anything like most of the other pictures on this page but it was still easy to trace the oval of 29 small stones, the size is roughly 16 metres by 14 metres. I’d really come to look at the carved rock which again was easy to locate but the carvings on the inward facing side of the stone were just about impossible to see. With a bit of imagination and with Stan’s drawing I could just about kid myself I could see them and slight indentations can be felt in the rock, but it was a bit of a disappointment. There was once another carved stone on the southern edge of the cairn but this has since disappeared.
Wading through thigh high wet grass, soaked through to the skin, the approach to this site was exhilarating. As I reached the circle a couple of rabbits scattered from it's centre into the long grass. Looking back round, my route here was clearly visible in the tall grass. This all added a unique quality to my visit. The site was completely peaceful and teaming with wildlife.
Glassonby circle lies pretty close to Long Meg and Little Meg and is definitely worth a visit for it's remoteness in this Cumbrian backwater.