tiffany graves

Long Meg and her Daughters
9x12 - watercolor/digital

Here, at one of the largest prehistoric stone circles, the legend tells that a local witch and her coven were turned to stone. Long Meg herself is a single twelve-foot narrow slip of sandstone, standing just outside the ring of her 59 daughters - though reports indicate there may have originally been as many as 77 stones.

Though some say “Long Meg” was Meg of Meldon - an early seventeenth century witch - she is more likely to have got her name from the saying “As long as Meg of Westminster,” which applied to any particularly tall person. The biographical tract of this particular Meg tells that she was a giantess, and of her similarly large gravestone, but the author, who is of the opinion that no woman would be put to rest among the monks of Westminster, suggests that the gravestone actually marks a mass grave of monks who died in a year of plague.

However that suggestion might be, several legends sprang up accounting for Long Meg as a victim of petrifaction. Another historian wrote in 1698 that the “sisters” of “Great Mag” solicited her to an unlawful love by enchantment, and were turned with her to stone. Further texts from the eighteenth century add little else to the story apart from the association with witches.

Besides the petrifaction legend, there was a tradition that these were “countless stones,” much like Stonehenge. It was also dangerous to interfere with the stones - if a piece were broken off Meg, she was said to bleed. When crews tried to blast the circle away in 1790, such a tempest arose that workmen fled in fear. Similar dangers are said to spring up at the desecration of barrows.