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Stone Circles

Peak District Stone Circles


If you have ever seen the Peak District moors and Dales shrouded in early autumn mists, there is no wonder this magical place has a reputation for its myths and legends. Some are false, but a lot of true and there is still so much history still being discovered today.


Peak District Stone circles can be very eerie places, but a lot of people simply find peace whenthey wander through the standing stones. They are monuments which consist of a number of stones fixed to the ground at intervals which enclose a circular area. Some are huge, and some of tiny. Stone circles were built in the Peak District during the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age is and the reason for them all is not altogether clear, although it is mainly thought they had a religious purpose.
There are around 20 stone circles still standing in the Peak District, but unfortunately a few more have been destroyed during the last couple of centuries. The ones that remain are very impressive and certainly worth seeking out.


Arbor Low
This is probably the most well-known stone circle in Derbyshire. It is made up of 30 strange collapsed blocks which originally were thought to have been stored in an egg shaped inner ring, 37 m x 41 m. They are made from white weathered limestone, and have been compared to fallen corroded teeth. It is the only circle in Derbyshire, not to be made from Millstone Grit.


It is one of the most important prehistoric sites in Derbyshire and is surrounded by unspoiled countryside, with beautiful views over quintessentially Peak District scenery. It is in some ways similar to Stonehenge in Wiltshire and is easily as unique and important, and probably why it has sometimes been referred to as the 'Stonehenge of the Peak District,'
In the centre of the circle is a group of four stones, which may be the remains of a cove. This unique arrangement makes it look like a clock face, especially when seen from the sky and it is not known whether the stones were ever in an upright position. There are two gaps within the outer bank, opposite each other which it is thought may have served as an entrance and exit, perhaps as part of the ceremony. There is also an earthwork leading from the site, the purpose of which is still unknown.


It dates back to the Neolithic or early Bronze Age period and the surrounding landscape is littered with barrows from the late Bronze Age, which were constructed around 1000 years after the henge was completed. One of the barrows was incorporated into the bank and the largest barrow known as Gib Hill, is only a short walk away towards the South. It takes its name from its use as a hanging Hill for a local murderer, the mound being one of the most impressive late Bronze Age barrows in the vicinity.


On a mystical theme, the site is said to have lots of ley lines morning through it, but the landscape of the surrounding area is very dense with lots of archaeological sites, which means the alignments could be pure chance, it all depends what you want to believe.
It is fairly easy to reach by turning off the A515, Ashbourne to Buxton Road at Parsley Hay, heading out towards Youlgreave. The signposts are very easy to follow, but they can cause consternation on your first visit because it seems you have to trespass through a farm, but there is a layby for parking and access through the farm to the circle itself. The farmer who owns the land may charge a small fee. There is a high circular bank, enclosing a partially silted ditch which in turn, and closes a flat plateau, which surrounds the stones and until you are just about on top of it, because the stones are all lying down and it is quite hard to see them. Simply follow the well worn tracks and once you find it, experience its magic.


Nine Ladies Stone Circle, Stanton Moor
The Nine Ladies is a beautiful circle, set it a copse of silver birches, and it certainly have a very mystical quality about it. Situated within a beautiful moor, it is 10 metres in diameter, with each stone less than 1 metre in height. Some of the stones are slightly leaning and there is an outlying stone, a block of millstone grit, which is just over half a metre high and is called the King Stone. It  stands approximately 45 m from the centre of the circle and legend has it that one Sunday, nine ladies and a fiddler came up to the Moor to dance. For this act of sacrilege, they were all turned into stone.


There is a gap to the South side of the circle where no stone hole has ever been found. An additional stone, lying flat rather than upright was discovered after being exposed as a crop mark in dry weather of 1976. It is now perfectly visible when once it remained undetected. It is built on an embankment which is level to the local terrain. R
It is a small early Bronze Age circle and is part of a complex of prehistoric circles and standing stones on the moor. It is owned by English Heritage and is often visited by tourists and hill walkers but it is also very popular with druids and pagans, especially around the Summer Solstice. It is a site which has long been a popular place for long-running environmental protests, mainly pagan protesters who helped fight against the quarrying of moor. Some pagans leave offerings in the centre, or heart of the circle.


Nine Stones Close
This is also known as The Grey Ladies and lies on Harthill moor, north of the village of Elton in the Peak District. They can be seen from the road from Elton to Alport, and are the tallest standing Stones in Derbyshire. Unfortunately, only four stones remain at what once was a 45 foot circle of stones. They range from 1.2 m to 2.1 m in height and the tallest is located at the southern end of the circle. Excavations took place in 1847 and it is thought the stones may not be in their original positions but have been moved. Prior to its redirection in 1936, the 2.1 m stone was measured at 3.5 m long but both now it and its northern partners are set in concrete.


In the middle of the 19th century, the antiquarian Thomas Bateman, recorded seven upright stones at the site, as well as finding pottery sherds , and flints. The stone from the original line was used as a gatepost and can be seen in the wall to the South, between the circle and Robin Hood's Stride but this gateway is now blocked.


It is called the Grey Ladies because they are supposed to represent ladies danced at midnight and in the background, to the South South West, rise the impressive, irregular cranks of Robin Hood's Stride, up from which the major southern rooms sets, which is thought might account for the siting of a circle. There is a great view of the stones from Robin Hood's Stride.


Barbrook I
This is a typically small Derbyshire embanked stone circle, which has a nearby cairn, close to two other circles, Barbrook II and Barbrook III. It is the southernmost of the circles and contains a flattened ring of stones.This circle can be clearly seen on the right-hand side of the path, situated on Big Moor in Derbyshire, 0.5 km from the main A 621 Baslow to Owler Bar road. It has easy access with full access across the moor passing yards from the circle and consists of a small, neat ring of 12 stones which are in really good condition. The tallest stone is 1.3 m high and marks the position of the midwinter sunset. It is a mecca of the people wanting to gather at the winter solstice and a short distance away is another small circle.


There is a Bronze Age settlement site with Cairns and field systems. While there have been few finds from the circle, the cairn stands a short distance to the north and was excavated and then restored during the early 1980s and was found to contain four cup marked rocks, one which also had ring.

Hordron Seven Stones
These lie on Moscar Moor off the main A 57 Glossop to Sheffield road, near the Lady Bower reservoir. They consist of around 20 stones with only 10 standing upright but they still can all be plainly seen. They stand in gorgeous scenery and have excellent views in all directions. With the impressive Stanage Edge to the East, the carved rock of Lady Bower Tor to the West and the stone circles and  Cairns of Bamford Moor a mile to the South, it is really magical place for stone circle lovers. Gaps between the stones suggest there were originally several moles stones and unlike many Derbyshire circles, the stones onto set into the bank bit instead form a freestanding ring of between 15 to 16 m, with heights ranging from about half a metre to the largest one being a meter tall.


This stone is known as the fairy stone and it is thought could provide an intriguing insight into the Bronze Age builders. The top of the stone bears an uncanny shape an angle to distant hills, Win Hill, 2 miles away and Lose Hill, 4 miles away. It mirrors the distant landscape. Researchers have found that at certain times of the year, the setting sun can be seen to roll down the slopes of Win Hill, these times being close to the pagan festivals and the traditional start of winter and spring.

Doll Tor
This stone circle is situated to the West of Birchover to Stanton in the Peak and is surrounded by trees. The stones are small and almost of grown by grass , but it is dated late within the stone circle building tradition, around 1800 BC in the Bronze Age. It consists of six standing stones, approximately 6 m x 4.5 m in diameter, with five stones of similar size and height and one smaller, wider one, all no more than a metre in height. There is an adjoining cairn which is the second smallest circle in Derbyshire.
It was first recorded by Thomas Bateman, in 1852 when he described the circle of six stones, two of which had fallen. The grave was discovered inside the enclosure containing three or four urns and cups and some of these are now housed in the Sheffield city Museum.