This late Neolithic, early Bronze Age site is thought to be one of the best preserved, most impressive and yet least visited stone circles within Britain.
No one really knows why these stone circles were built but most archaeologists believe that it was for ritual or ceremonial issues. Located within the Whicham Valley and about 25 minutes walk from the village of Broadgate, Swinside is constructed from local slate. The ring itself has a diameter of just under 94 feet (about 37 meters), up to 10 feet (3 meters) high and currently contains 55 stones, although originally it is thought to have been more like 60. There are 2 outer portal stones which were likely to be included to signify the ‘entrance – exit‛ and these lie on the monuments south-eastern side.
Wordsworth is thought to have written about Swinside after visiting during his school days which he spent at Hawkshead. In one of his many sonnets about the Duddon Valley he writes…
Or near that mythical Round of Druid frame
Turidly sinking by its proper weight
Deep into patient Earth, from whose
Smooth breast it came
Although he refers to it as ‘Druid‛ it would have been at least 2000 years old before any Druid would be near the site.
Swinside was originally known as “sunkenkirk” as it was believed to be the remains of an ancient church which had gradually sunk into the ground over the years. Local folklore believed that they had once been used in the construction of a church but that the Devil continually pulled down their efforts thus creating the stone circle in the process.. Whatever their intentions these magnificent stones are worth a visit!