A Relic of the Past: Eskdale Stone Circles
Updated: Aug 12, 2021
An hour’s walk up from the village of Boot in Eskdale Valley rests a collection of ancient stone circles. Uneven, jagged and lying almost higgledy-piggledy among the grassland, they certainly wrestle for position as one of the wildest places I’ve visited in England.
Eskdale Valley in the Lake District was once covered in forest but some of the earliest settlers in Britain were responsible for stripping it of trees. These Bronze Age people also left their mark in the form of stone circles. The five separate circles spread across Brat’s Hill date back to around 2000 BC.
Although many ancient stone circles were created to highlight and worship the solstice sun, such as the Solstice at Stonehenge, these at Eskdale are thought to be burial sites. A large cairn marks the burial spot in the centre of each one.
Despite closely missing the crown of the oldest stone circle in the Lake District (by a mere 1000 years) this has to be the wildest site. Since the site is not en-route to any fell-top and is only marked by several barely noticeable circles on my Ordinance Survey map, few people seem to pass by. Admittedly, visiting it in October, the day after heavy rain that closed a nearby bridge ad disrupted train services may have added to the impression that we were adventuring far from the beaten track.
The weather, in my view, only added to the magic. Boasting spectacular views across to Eel tarn to the east, Sca Fell to the north-east and the sea to the west, it was well worth pausing to watch the sun and shadows ripple across the grass. If it hadn’t been for the fact that the waterproofing on my boots was letting me down I could happily have remained imagining that I was lost several thousand years in the past.