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8 April 2007
Possible missing stone and bank at Long Meg

A student is leading the way in unlocking the mysteries of an ancient stone circle, Long Meg and her Daughters, near Little Salkeld (England). 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.
     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. Sarah used modern resistivity equipment to conduct the field work. 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 BCE) 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. 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. 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

Sources: The Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, The Modern Antiquarian (24 March 2007)

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