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eric robson's broughton in furness...

Not far from Broughton is one of the most magical places I've ever visited. Nestling under the brooding mass of Black Combe, the Swinside stone circle is one of the finest in Europe. I first saw it when I went to the farm where it stands to buy a bull. And there aren't many broadcasters who could claim that. It was a very fine bull but an even better stone circle. 55 stones, 93 feet in diameter. Stand in the centre and align yourself with the portal stones in the south east of the circle and you're facing the midwinter sunrise.

If you can't make it in midwinter, try to go when the cloud is down to get the real effect of the place. There's a presence here; voices whispering from either the bronze age or the nether world. Because Swinside is also known as Sunkenkirk. Apparently the devil objected to an attempt to build a church here and stones set up during the day were dragged below ground at night.

The other fascinating thing about the Swinside stone circle (and this is true) is that it's one of a matching pair. The other one is in Northern Ireland, in County Down. And how on earth did they manage to organise that in the bronze age? We'd be hard pressed to sort it out today.

To visit Swinside all you have to do is look for the map reference SD171882 and walk for about 20 minutes from the public road because there's no parking at the circle itself.

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