Today is the darkest day of the year
Watching the sun set on the darkest day of the year from the Meayll Hill Stone Circle. This 4000 year old stone tomb overlooks the sea on the Isle of Man
That means that from here on out, our days are getting longer and lighter, even if it’s just by a few seconds at a time. For me that’s reason to celebrate so after I finished work, Josh and I headed to Meayll Hill, where you can find an ancient stone circle. Built more than five thousand years ago it was the perfect place to take in the views.
The Winter Solstice
The shortest day of the year is called the Winter Solstice and it generally falls around December 21st. For those living in the northern hemisphere it’s also the darkest day of the year — on the Isle of Man the sun rose at 8.30am and it set at 3:58pm.
Seven and a half hours of daylight can be tough but further north its even worse. My mind wanders to the isolated islands of the Hebrides and then far north to Scandinavia, Greenland, and Alaska. The lands of the Midnight Sun become a place where the sun disappears completely for up to 67 days in winter.
All alone at the circle
Amazingly, there were no other people at Meayll Hill while we were there. We had the circle, the sea, and the sun to ourselves up until we were leaving. It was only then that a lone fell runner ran up the path with his dog.
The wind was freezing abut it was worth staying long enough to see the sun fall behind the Calf of Man. This tiny island is situated south-west of the larger Isle of Man and is a nature reserve. Amazingly the sun will set much further west in the summer and lights up the town of Peel, nicknamed the ‘Sunset City’. I think it would have had a tough time seeing the sunset from there this afternoon.
Meayll Hill Stone Circle
The circle of stones on Meayll Hill reminds me of a broken crown. Or maybe a great open mouth of crooked teeth. Even now historians don’t truly know the real reason that the stone circle was built which I find intriguing and fuel for imagination.
It’s composed of twelve stone graves that were excavated years ago and many small finds have been made here. For the small size of the Isle of Man it’s surprising how many similar ancient and Neolithic sites are here — here’s twelve that I think are the most fascinating.
How to get there
If you’d like to visit the Meayll Hill Circle there are directions below. Wherever you are in the world though, Happy Winter Solstice and I hope you look forward to the days ascending into spring. I know that I am!
From Port Erin, take the Ballafurt road towards Cregneash and you’ll find ‘Mull Hill’ or Meayll Hill Circle signed on your left about halfway there. From Cregneash, take the single lane road off of Howe Road towards Port Erin. The site will be on your right. The site is at the top of a hill climb so wear sturdy shoes and sensible clothing
To see another neolithic site on the Isle of Man watch the video below. Towards the end I take you to see Cashtal yn Ard, another 4000 year old stone tomb on another Winter Solstice.