In my mind I was already composing my letter to John Waterhouse, Aubrey Burl and the Cumberland and Westmorland Archaeological Society. The subject of letter? How I had rediscovered the lost stone circle of Rawthey Bridge.
Drive to Rawthey bridge
Search the Hillside
Find, describe and photograph the circle.
I arrived at the bridge mid afternoon on the eve of the summer solstice. There is a good parking spot a few yards south of the bridge and a gated footpath on the opposite side of the road.
I had two grid references for the circle, one placed the site on the hillside close to the bridge, and the second reference placed the circle on the top of the nearby hill called Bluecaster.
Unusually for me I decided to use a sort of semi-methodological approach to my search for any trace of the circle. Starting at the bridge I followed the footpath for about a mile, checking out any possible sites either side of the path. I then turned back on myself and headed north east and uphill to the top of Bluecaster and then finally back down to the bridge. This triangular search would cover the two grid refs I had for the site and much more besides.
Unfortunately I didn't find any trace of the circle. The hillside shows plenty of evidence of human activities mainly in the form of trackways and drilled rocks so fairly safe to say that good amounts of stone have been removed from this hillside to be used for building, road mending and also to feed the many lime kilns that operated in this area from Roman times to the eighteenth century.
So that was that, no circle, no glory but not a wasted day. The views of both the Howgill Fells and the limestone scars around Wild Boar Fell are spectacular.
The ancient Briton, who were here, have left behind them but few traces of their occupations, but in the Fell End Angle, the south-eastern quarter of the parish near Rawthey Bridge, there are megalithic remains of a stone circle.
Little is known about this site. Nicholson and Burn place it by the road from Kirkby Stephen to Sedbergh near Rawthey bridge, i.e. just on the edge of the Howgill Fells. They describe it simply as a circle of large stones, supposed to be a monument of Druid worship.
The Stone Circles of Cumbria
Pub. Phillimore &Co.