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Long Meg & Her Daughters (Stone Circle)

Long Meg geophysics survey discovers possible missing twin.

Front page news from The Cumberland & Westmorland Herald 24/03/07

Unlocking Mysteries of Ancient Stone Circle

An Eden student is leading the way in unlocking the mysteries of a 'forgotten' ancient stone circle, Long Meg and her Daughters, near Little Salkeld.

Sarah Potter, of Yanwath, who is in the third year of a degree in archaeology at the University of Manchester, carried out the first complete geophysics survey of the stone circle over a three day period last week.

Long Meg is the third largest stone circle in Britain, following Avebury outer stone circle and Stanton Drew, in Somerset. The circle consists of 68 stones, of which 27 are still standing, and an outlier stone called Long Meg.

After being granted permission by English Heritage, Sarah used modern resistivity equipment to conduct the field work which will form the basis of a 12,000 word dissertation. Her findings will also be published in an archaeological journal next year. The Long Meg pillar, which is made of local red sandstone, is believed to have come from the source of the nearby River Eden, and all of the other stones are glacial erratics. Four of the stones are made of quartz, also known as crystal stones.

"There has never been any excavational work done on the site," said Sarah. "It seems to have been forgotten about. There is not enough money in Cumbria for excavational work other than rescue excavation."

But, she said, now there were some good results which would point experts in the right direction as to where to look for further clues. An excavation would enable a date to be pinpointed for the stone circle. At present it is believed that the stones were collected and erected during the Neolithic period (4000-2250 BC) – when the introduction of farming and the domestication of animals began.

The resistivity equipment which she used sends a current of electricity into the ground to receive back different readings. Dry areas, such as stone, send a different reading to moist ditch deposits.

Sarah, the daughter of Helen and Malcolm Potter, was helped by her friend, Leon Williams, from Cork, Southern Ireland, to carry out the work. She said ground conditions were perfect. "I now believe that Long Meg is no longer an outlier stone, but in fact was one of a pair of stones which flanked the entrance to the circle," said Sarah, who is a former Ullswater Community College and Clifton Primary School pupil.

Another interesting finding which Sarah made is that there might have been a large bank which encircled the stones. Other anomalies were also found under the ground which only excavational work will be able to fully explain.

"I want to raise awareness of the vast Cumbrian prehistoric landscape which is unique to England and is comparable to the area around Stonehenge," said Sarah
Cumbria is the best place in the world. That thing about the weather is just a lie we tell to stop it getting overcrowded.

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