Hidden amongst the Shropshire hills stands the 4,000 year old Mitchell’s Fold Stone Circle : a Bronze Age monument around 27 meters in diameter, consisting of approximately 30 stones of which only about half are visible today.
The low-standing stones are only visible once you are nearby, most of them were probably as high as the middle piece (standing at around 180cm) before being damaged by time. The circle itself is in a shallow basin surrounded by a hummocky landscape. This concealment was probably intentional, with the idea that the supposedly religious activity that would take place there could be done quietly and without being deranged by every day activities. It is likely that there was the idea that mundane and spiritual activities should not mix.
The location is also linked to the nearby Corndon hill, where picrite was present and used to make Bronze Age axes. Picrite sources were often chosen and used in consideration to the difficulty to reach them. Therefore there could be direct symbolic link between Bronze Age religion and picrite, a vital material for the time.
There are two other stone circles in the area, the Hoarstones (1½ mile NE from Mitchell’s Circle) and the Whetstones (½ mile east from Mitchell’s Circle).The hillside around Mitchell’s circle is also filled with burial cairns. All these monuments tend to show that the region had great religious significance. According to folklore, a local cow who gave unlimited milk was milked dry by a witch, who was punished by being turned into stone and was surrounded by other stones to imprison her.
As we arrived to the monument, we read the short text about the stone circle and listened to the professor as he gave more information about the circle and its surroundings. We then walked around the premises to fully comprehend it, took pictures, and talked about the monument. By going to this site, I was able to grasp the full scale of the stone circle. I was also able to clearly see its position, in link to the surrounding geography. Indeed, a stone circle’s location is of great importance and is rarely random. Visiting an archaeological site enables to grasp these things, unlike photographs or film ; by walking on their footsteps, we are able to better understand people of the past.
By Martin Kirsch