The Druid’s Circle

I spent much of Sunday afternoon and night and then through into Monday morning at the Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria to photograph the Winter Solstice celebrations. Unfortunately however the weather conspired against those who may have visited and strong winds and driving rain was pretty much the order of the day. However a few hardy souls dropped by at last light so I was able to shoot a few pictures. Some of which are below…

The winter solstice, or ‘Alban Arthan‘ as it is known by Druids and Wiccans, and which is often celebrated as ‘Yule’ falls on December 21st and is an important turning point in the year as it marks the shortest day, when the hours of daylight are at their least. As dawn breaks on the morning of the 22nd the days then slowly begin to get longer, and the nights shorter. This transition has long been celebrated throughout history and around 50 people, intrigued and inspired by this ancient monument gather to mark the occasion at the standing stones of Castlerigg.

Known as ‘The Druid’s Circle‘ it sits in an amphitheatre overlooked by the magical fells of Skiddaw and Blencathra to the north and Castlerigg Fell and High Rigg to the south. The ring of stones sitting under the gaze of these majestic mountains dates back over 4,000 years to neolithic times and it is a popular meeting place for people from all over Britain who come to the remote and beautiful location to mark the arrival of both the Winter and the Summer solstices – apart from when the weather is atrocious…obviously.

There is a tradition saying that it is impossible to count the number of stones within Castlerigg as every attempt will result in a different answer. This tradition, however, may not be far from the truth. Due to erosion of the soil around the stones, caused by the large number of visitors to the monument throughout the year, several smaller stones have now ‘appeared’ next to some of the larger stones. Because these stones are so small, they are likely to have been packing stones used to support the larger stones when the circle was constructed and would originally have been buried. Differences in opinion as to the exact number of stones within Castlerigg are usually down to whether the observer counts these small packing stones, or not. Some count 38, some 40 and others 42. The official number of stones, as represented on the National Trust website for the monument however, is 38.

 

Anyway, here’s a few pictures from a wet and windy hillside in Cumbria…

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Castlerigg

Visitors to the ancient stone circle of Castlerigg near Keswick in Cumbria celebrated the Summer Solstice and gathered at the stones to party through the night until the sun rose on the morning of the longest day…

 

 

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 TECH STUFF: Pictures were shot with a Leica M9 with a 50mm f2 Summicron lens and a Fuji X Pro 1 with an 18mm f2 lens (28mm equivalent on full frame). Images were edited with Lightroom 5.5 and Photoshop. All images are edited minimally using only techniques that could be achieved in a traditional darkroom.

 

See more of my work on my website and blogs here

Pictures copyright Ian Forsyth/ London News Pictures