The Stone Circle at Mitchell’s Fold

Last Updated on 25th July 2022 by Mike@bitaboutbritain

Mitchell's Fold Stone Circle, Shropshire

Mitchell’s Fold Stone Circle is one of those places you think you should have arrived at much sooner than you do. “We must have passed it.  Maybe I should turn round”.  Surely, supernatural forces were at work, discombobulating me as I (unsuccessfully) navigated the car along narrow border lanes between England and Wales.  In fact, all I needed was a good scale map – and to have taken a shorter route.  It was very pleasant anyway, as we skipped (not easy to do whilst driving) bewilderingly in and out of Shropshire and Powys.  Eventually, we arrived at a rough trackway and parked up.  Boots were donned; you can never tell what you’ll find at a stone circle.

The way to Mitchell's Fold Stone Circle

It was late afternoon and the light was just about breaking through low cloud as we made our way up a slight slope toward the monument.  It sits at around 1,000 feet above sea level, with soft, green, valleys below.  Great views appeared through gaps in the hedge and then we were on open moorland.  On our left, to the west, a fabulous, moody, panorama opened up, with the backdrop of distant Welsh hills.  There wasn’t another soul in sight.

Mitchell's Fold Stone Circle

Seekers of stone circles know that these places are rarely on a grand scale.  They are very old and have often been vandalised.  Mitchell’s Fold Stone Circle was built during the Bronze Age, about 3,000 years ago and, to be fair, it is fairly modest.  There are 15 dolerite stones taken from Stapeley Hill nearby.  The stones are arranged in a rough, low, circle with a couple of them standing higher than the rest.  Experts believe there were originally 30 stones, that the tallest had a twin, making a doorway, and that there was a central stone inside the circle.  As ever, I wondered about the people that built these things, all those years ago.  What were they like?  What did they talk about?  Think of the effort, organisation and commitment going into a project like this – and we still do not know for sure why they did it.  Sacred site?  Meeting place?  Whatever it was, the motivation was astonishing.

Mitchells Fold Stone Circle, A Bit About Britain

Who was Mitchell, I wondered? Whoever he was, his fold is sometimes known as Medgel’s Fold.  Trackways criss-cross the circle.  Animals or man?  I didn’t know.  It is, so I have read, a good place to celebrate the summer and winter solstices and I can imagine that would be right. Very atmospheric.  Several other prehistoric sites are nearby, including another circle, Hoarstones, and a Bronze Age axe factory at Cwm Mawr.  A lone walker came into view and I watched him stride up the hill with stick and backpack.  He nodded a greeting as he passed on his way to who knows where.  There was what looked like a slated roof not far away; surely, no one lives up here, I thought.

Mitchells Fold Stone Circle, English Heritage

A legend says that King Arthur drew Excalibur from a stone at Mitchell’s Fold.  A more common story tells of a benevolent fairy who, during a time of famine, conjured up a magic cow that produced an unlimited supply of milk.  But an evil witch appeared one night and managed to milk the cow dry, at which point the poor, drained, creature disappeared.  The witch, however, was turned to stone and imprisoned inside a circle of stones that grew up around her.  Serves her right.

The end.

Mitchell's Fold

More about Mitchell’s Fold from English Heritage.

41 thoughts on “The Stone Circle at Mitchell’s Fold

  1. hilarymb

    Thanks Mike … a few years ago I was near that area – and yes went down tiny lanes … fairly lost – but I found my destination. It’s full of trackways, marshes, bogs, other Celtic cultures … which the landscape supports. Fascinating place – which I’d never heard of … I know the Cornish stone circles … but sometime I’d love to ‘wander’ around that part of the world. Delightful post thank you … cheers Hilary

  2. V.M.Sang

    When people think of stone circles, they inevitably think of Stonehenge or Avebury. yet there are so many around. Although I’ve visited this area many times, I didn’t know about this one.

      1. V.M.Sang

        The most amazing circle I came across in the 70s is not far from Stonehenge. We were amazed to find a circle of little posts and the notice said it had been a henge made of wood. The posts were where the wooden standings were.

  3. robertawrites235681907

    Hi Mike, I haven’t managed to visit a stone circle in the UK yet. I will be in Suffolk and Norfolk in December and will read your book before I go and get tips on places to visit.

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      Thanks, Robbie! That’s great, although I’m not sure how helpful either book will be in that regard. Take a look at ‘Places to Visit’ on the main menu here, or search for articles on places in the East of England. And drop me a line nearer the time and I’ll be glad to help.

  4. Jill Morris

    I’m interested in any stone circle/bronze/ iron age type stuff, the history of things like this, if only I could retain the knowledge. These are the bits about Britain I love, all our history and heritage. Never actually heard of these standing stones either. Thanks for posting this.

  5. Andy

    I would also count myself among stone circle affectionados. You got me thinking – what would you find at stone circles . . . ? . . . old hippies maybe, deceased or concussed unsuccessful time travelers perhaps (TV series Outlander reference), the odd Neanderthal wandering around, lost. Sadly we don’t have any stone circles this side of t’ pond. The native Americans didn’t go in for that sort of thing. Sounds like its time for another trip East. btw wasn’t there one theory that the stones were all (mostly?) rich in iron and so the circles played havoc with magnetic navigation. A likely story I know.

  6. Marcia Brown

    Hmm, Guessing your blog doesn’t like posted links. Oh, well. I tried. But I posted about them in Dec 2017 if you look at my blog archive.

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      Thanks, Marcia. I have set the website to hold any comment with a link in it until it has been approved. This helps prevent spam – I get a lot of daft comments and irrelevant links, as I’m sure you do too. As you know, there are many stone circles in Britain – fascinating things – and I see I actually commented on your blog post in 2017! Hope all is tickety-boo with you?

  7. Marcia Brown

    Your post reminded me that we visited a stone circle in Scotland – Torhouse Stones. Have you heard of it or been there? I wondered the same thing about the people who built that one.

A Bit About Britain welcomes visitors. What do you think?

%d bloggers like this: