Our Northumbrian Holiday pt1: Duddo Stone Circle

Hello tuna readers.  There was no posting last week or the week before as myself, Mr Tuna and doggies were on our holiday in the glorious north of England.  We have a friend who looks after our other fur-kids at home and a super big thank you to her.  (and yes, she got a present.  It’s a lot of work with our cats so she deserves a holiday herself afterwards! :-))

I’m using this post to write about just one day during our holiday.  We had great weather and decided one day to give long dog walks on the beach a miss and drive inland.  We visited the Ford and Etal estates.  There is a narrow gauge steam train just outside Ford and Mr Tuna does like his trains, big or small, so we had to buy a ticket and take the ride.  Dogs travel free of charge!  Our pups have undertaken many vintage train journeys and are quite used to the smells and sounds and the motion of the trains, and they love to sit on our laps and look out the windows even though they get a bit heavy!

Narrow gauge steam choo-choo train.
Narrow gauge steam choo-choo train.
Lennie and Daisy enjoying their train ride.
Lennie and Daisy enjoying their train ride.
Mr Choo-choo Tuna on the narrow gauge.
Mr Choo-choo Tuna on the narrow gauge.
Bunty the narrow gauge steam engine.
Bunty the narrow gauge steam engine.

The whole return journey only took about 40 minutes.  The train goes between the Villages of Ford and Etal which are old private estates. It is possible to get the train to one the villages, get off and walk back to other village.  However, we had other options on our agenda…

About 3 miles north of Etal is the tiny farming hamlet of Duddo and if you look out for the sign posts you can drive down a lane, park on the verge and walk about a mile (probably less) to the stone circle of Duddo.

The walk to the stones was lovely, along a farm track with the blue sky, the sun shining, the dogs sniffing in the undergrowth, miles from a town or major road.  In the distance we spotted the stones on higher ground (although I found out that it is only approximately 100 feet above sea level)  occasionally losing the view as we went through a small copse or around a bend in the track.  Then at the bottom of a farmer’s field there they were above us.  The field had been recently ploughed, obscuring the footpath but a small sign pointed the way and we approached slowly.

The walk to Duddo Stone Circle, Northumbria
The walk to Duddo Stone Circle, Northumbria

It’s not a large stone circle.  There used to be seven stones, now only five are standing, but the foundations of the others can be seen.  The circle is about 10 metres in diameter.  It is estimated that the circle was erected approximately 3,500 years ago, which is about the time of other stone circle construction in the British Isles.

Duddo Stone Circle.
Duddo Stone Circle, complete with Mr Tuna and the fur-kids.

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The deep lines in the rock are caused by weathering of the limestone.  Rain hits the rock and rolls down the side and this constant attrition along with chemicals in the rain cause the soft limestone to wear away.  The rain finds the path of least resistant and dips are created that become deeper and deeper and these are the deep troughs that you can see today.  Considering their location on high ground with the wind, rain and sun beating down on them for the last 3,500 years, it is amazing that they are still standing.  Over the centuries farmers have found it easier to plough around the stones rather than remove them.  And what a blessing that is!  It would be so sad to have lost them. The area has obviously been agricultural land for centuries.

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The most fantastic view looking towards the Scottish Border.
The most fantastic view looking towards the Scottish Border.

The next two photos I find fascinating.  Hard to believe that weathering has created the shape of the stone in the photo.  Looks like it could have been sculpted.  I think it looks like a very curvy female behind/bottom/derrier (take your pick).  If you look closely you will see a carving on one of the buttocks.  It must have been carved, I can’t believe weathering created such a shape.  To me it looks like a dog or a deer.  What are your thoughts?  Do you think the stone was weathered into that shape or could it have been sculpted?  I haven’t been able to find much information on the Duddo Stone Circle which is a shame.  What do you think about stone circles?

What do you see?  Weathered stone or human intervention?
What do you see? Weathered stone or human intervention?

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This shape is found on the left 'buttock' of the stone?  What do you think it is - weathering, carved by humans, a dog, a deer a horse?
This shape is found on the left ‘buttock’ of the stone? What do you think it is – weathering, carved by humans, a dog, a deer a horse?

Why would someone carve this on a stone?  It seems impossible to tell when it was carved.  It’s quite distinct in real life and the photo doesn’t do it justice.  Why would it be carved on this stone?  I didn’t see carvings on other stones, other than what may have been cup and ring carvings, but it was hard to tell due to the weathering.  A couple of the stones themselves, due to the weathering, I thought  looked like hands or feet.

Last but not least, little old me and a hand shaped stone that Ifelt drawn to.
Last but not least, little old me and a hand shaped stone that I felt drawn to.

The two links below tell you more about the Duddo Stone circle.  I highly recommend you have a read, it won’t take long.  The Duddo Community page (bottom link) tells you more about the area and the history and the risks that the stones have withstood in the past and what they may face in future. I for one, am truly grateful they are there.  I have been to Northumbria many times, it’s my favourite place in Britain and I’m sorry I never learnt about these stones earlier.

http://www.thisisnorthumberland.com/features/duddo-stone-circle-northumberlands-stonehenge/

http://www.duddo.org.uk/index.php/about-duddo/duddo-five-stones/

Sit in the centre, take a few deep breaths and still your mind and body.  Listen to the wind, the birds, the air. Breath in the air, the energy and the atmosphere.  Think of your history and your ancestors, think of all the people that passed that way before.  Our ancient ancestors believed it important enough to struggle to move the stones and erect them in a circle. They believed it important enough to visit there regularly.  Not only were the stones erected in a place of power and energy, but all the people passing through have left a part of their histories and energies there.  We left some energy there on the day we visited and I hope we left positive thoughts there.  It was the most peaceful and quiet location.  No towns, no roads, no people. Glorious!

I hope you have enjoyed this post.  Let me know what you think.

More on Northumbria in the next tuna posting.  (Haven’t finished with my holiday photos yet!)

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3 thoughts on “Our Northumbrian Holiday pt1: Duddo Stone Circle

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