In the heart of a large estate in North Yorkshire lies an ancient, mystical ruin that, well, isn’t actually that ancient or mystical at all.
Although it looks like the 5000-year-old Stonehenge, Swinton Druids Temple was built by an eccentric landowner called William Danby who owned the Swinton estate near Masham.
It isn’t clear when exactly the temple was built, but it was likely to have been around the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
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Like Stonehenge, not much is known about the construction of the ‘temple’, but it almost certainly wasn’t an astrological clock, or an altar for human sacrifice.
Instead, it was a ‘folly’, which were buildings designed to look like ancient ruins or monuments.
Follies were all the rage among landowners in the 18th Century, who designed eye-catching towers, crumbling castles and fairy-tale palaces.
The castle in Roundhay Park in Leeds, along with the Wainhouse Tower in Halifax and Stainborough Castle near Barnsley are other prime examples of follies.
Landowners who owned the vast estates would sometimes build the follies in order to help the unemployed – who would be paid around a shilling a day to construct the strange monuments.
(Image: alh1 / Flickr)
The Swinton Druid’s Temple was designed to look like a prehistoric monument, full of mysticism and mystery, which was very popular at the time.
It is set in a wood in the Swinton Estate, which certainly adds to the atmosphere of the ‘ruins’.
The ruins are associated with a number of local legends, including devil worship and spooky occurrences experienced by those who have been brave enough to stay the night.
Nowadays, you can walk around the ruins which can be accessed from Swinton Park, and enjoy a nice picnic among the stones.
Just watch out for druids.
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