Saturday Snapshot: Duddo Stone Circle

Stone circles fascinate me. They have done ever since I was a young teenager and went to Stonehenge. It was dawn as we were travelling to the New Forest for our annual Girl Guide camp there. The coach driver stopped so we could get out and see the sun rising over the stones. This was in the days when the stones were open and we ran across so we could be in the circle when the sun came up – it was magical. These days Stonehenge is fenced off and going there is just not the same experience.

There is a small stone circle not very far from where we live and we went to see it last Saturday. Duddo Stone Circle is a group of five Neolithic/Bronze Age stones – radiocarbon dating indicates they were erected around 2000BC. Originally there were seven stones. Excavations in the 1890s revealed the socket holes of the missing stones and also the cremated human remains in the central pit.

This is the view of the stone circle standing proud on a low hill next to the small Northumberland village of Duddo as you approach the stones along a permissive path:

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Farmers used to plough across the inside of the circle.These days they don’t, but farm all around the circle:

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It’s fantastic up inside the stone circle. Unlike Stonehenge (which is of course much bigger) you can walk right up to the stones and go inside the circle. The stones are sandstone, varying in height from 1.3 metres to 2.3 metres. The site is listed on the Schedule of Ancient Monuments – No. 1006622.

It was very windy last Saturday and I found it hard to keep my camera steady, but I did manage to get some close ups of the stones. Stones that have been sculpted by the wind into weird shapes.

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We had the stones to ourselves and it was easy to imagine what it must have been like up there on the hill all those years ago, with views all round to the Cheviots and the Eildon Hills in Scotland and to wonder just why the stones were there and what they had meant to the people who erected them. The Defra information board below the stones indicated that the fragments of human bones found in the central pit dated from 1740 – 1660 BC suggesting that the use of the site for burial was a later event. Its original purpose remains a mystery – I like that.

Also in Duddo are the remains of a medieval tower house. We didn’t have time to look at it last Saturday, but we’ll go there another day.

For more Saturday Snapshots see Alyce’s blog At Home With Books.

25 thoughts on “Saturday Snapshot: Duddo Stone Circle”

  1. What a great series of photos! What a wonderful walk that must have been, you go to so many interesting places. I was fascinated to see all the birds behind the farmers tractor too. I’m sure they’re not welcome, eating seed?

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  2. It would be so much fun to visit stone circles! Every time I see them I can’t help but think of Diana Gabladon’s Outlander books though. 🙂

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  3. These are amazing. It’s too bad about stonehenge. I’ve never visited and thought it might not be as cool as I imagined since it is right by the road. Two years ago, we visited fields and fields full of standing stones in western France, but they were waist high rather than towering stones. Here’s Mine

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  4. I love how the wind has shaped the rocks so it looks like the rocks and the tall grass around them are leaning against the strength of the wind.

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  5. Margaret – What stunning ‘photos! Thanks for sharing. I’m interested in circles too and I can certainly see why they fascinate you as they do. Lucky you to live near one of them.

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  6. I don’t think I ever knew that there were other stone circles besides Stonehenge. I like this one as it seems undisturbed and has weathered naturally. The cremated human remains are a tantalizing mystery, aren’t they? It’s fun to try to figure out what the circles were for and how they were constructed.

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  7. Magical! I found myself thinking how big they must have been before being eroded over the ages … and you’re right about Stonehenge not being the same now that it’s all gated off … We opted to go to Avebury and see the beacon mound and the huge stone circle there when we travel in that area of England. At Avebury, one can wander around in the cirlce and walk right up to the stones too. Or at least one could several years ago … I hope they haven’t had to change their policy!

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  8. Between you and Katrina at pining for the west (Scotland), I am getting wonderful pictures of the British Isles and learning so much. Thanks.

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  9. I’ve not heard of those ones, they’re definitely going on my list of places to visit. We have quite a lot of standing stones in fields around Fife and Perthshire but there are usually only a couple together in each field.

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  10. I visited Northumberland for a week at the beginning of this month. Had a trip to see the Stone Circle. It is awesome – and well worth the walk there.

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