A Taste of the Peak District

Accommodation and attractions of the Derbyshire Peak District of the UK - Stone Circles

 

Home >> Attractions and activities >> Archaeology >> Stone Circles in Derbyshire

Stone circles have held a fascination to modern humans for several centuries, for example Thomas Bateman in the mid 19th century excavated many of the barrows and stone circles in the Peak District and Derbyshire. The artifacts he collected from these archaeological digs were sold by his family to the Sheffield Museum. Many of the circles are not well preserved and have been vandalised over the years, for example the fire set round the Kings Stone on Stanton Moor which cracked it. Some of the cicles may not actually be stone circles, they could be the remains of the kerbs of barrows.

 

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  • Nine Stone Close
  • Stanton Moor
  • Stoke Flat Stone circle
  • Find the locations using the Ordnance Survey map of the White Peak or Dark Peak (in association with Cotswold Outdoor).

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    N.B. I have produced this page from notes taken some years ago when I first developed an interest in archaeology. Some of the information came from an evening class and some of it I believe came from a book entitled ‘Stone Circles of the Peak’.

    Information about the geometry and mystical numbers is something about which I remain sceptical but am willing to be converted!

     
    Stoke Flat stone circle, Froggatt Edge
    click here for map

    General

    This stone circle is best viewed in the winter, especially on a misty day which addsThe south entrance of the Stoke Flat stone circle in the Peak District an aura of mystery to the setting. To find it, take the path along to Froggatt Edge from the Hay Wood end of the Edge. Walk through delightful silver birch woodland until you reach a small stream and gate. Continue along the path for about 200 metres or so and just after the woodland gives way to moorland, Stoke Flat stone circle is on the left. It is easily spotted in the winter by its one tall stone (about 1m in height) which looks a little like a small gatepost.

    The southern entrance to the Stoke Flat stone circle in the Peak DistrictIn summer, just follow the path through the bracken! At first it seems very unimpressive since the rest of the stones are smaller and the wide, low earth bank has been disturbed in places. The bank is about 15 metres diameter, less than 0.5 metre in height and 2 - 3 metres in width. The inside edge is kept in place by a two-course dry stone wall. To the NE and SW, the bank is cut by the entrances, diametrically opposed and something like 2.5 metres wide.

    The Northern entrance is blocked by rubble which is thought to beStoke Flat stone circle from the north entrance contemporaneous with the bank and is probably a symbolic entrance. The remaining stones show that there were two rings, one on each edge of the earth bank. It is not known how many stones there were originally but they were recorded in 1848 as being of equal spacing - only 15 still remain and 6 of these are no longer standing. The stones of the entrances are placed with their faces parallel so as to give greater importance to these features of the ring.

    Alignments

    The following information is for the many people who subscribe to the theory that stone circles were carefully constructed astronomical and mystical structures. Stoke Flat circle is a lunar circle, built to relate to the moon at the times of the solstices in particular although other times are represented. When viewed from the Northern Entrance, the tall stone of the Southern entrance is lined up with the position of Arbor Low, the major Henge of the Peak District. The midsummer full moon would be seen to set here. If the observer sat at the centre of the circle, the midwinter sun would be seen to set into the centre of the stone. There are no stones (currently) to use as guides but the rising point of the midwinter full moon would have been marked by Curbar Edge, across the moor. Looking NNW from the centre of the circle, the one of the remaining stones marks the Midsummer sunset by its left edge. Possibly another stone on the outer edge of the earth bank could have been involved in the pinpointing of this event. It is thought that observations from this circle could have been used in eclipse prediction.

    Geometry and mystical numbers

    Stoke Flat is based on true circles, the outer and inner edges of the banks are two and a third can be drawn using the centre of the bank. The diameters and circumferences are integral because the dimensions are based on the use of multiples of 7. If squares are drawn within the circles they have the following perimeter measurements - 60, 50, 40. Symbolically, the circle is an expression of the numbers 1 to 7 - 1 is the whole, 1 - 3 are the basis of all things, 4 is the world, 5 is the life force, 6 is the unifying and harmonising number and 7 is the number of initiation which underlies the whole construction. The numbers are found from one whole site, two entrances, three circles, four , five and six from the circumferences of the circles and perimeters of the squares, seven in the width of the bank and the underlying construction.

    Nine Stone Close stone circle, Harthill Moor
    click here for map

    General

    Peak District National Park - Nine Stone Close stone circleThe standing stones of this circle are probably the most impressive in the Peak District National Park as they are about 2m in height. Unfortunately they are in an area that has been heavily farmed and now only 4 stones remain. It is on private land but is easily visible from the nearby Robin Hood’s Stride beauty spot. In this case, Robin Hood is the local alternative to the ‘Green Man’, the old god of fertility rather than the outlaw of Sherwood Forest. Originally the stones would have been equally spaced around a ring of about 15 metres in diameter.

    Alignments

    Peak District National Park - Robin Hood's Stride from Nine Stone Close stone circleStone 1 is the most northerly. Stone 2 would have more or less marked the rising point of the midsummer Sun and is actually aligned with the northern end of Stanton Moor, a significant area of high ground nearby, itself a major bronze age centre with at least one circle and many burial mounds. The third stone is aligned with the nearby horizon of Cratcliffe, marking the midwinter sunrise so presumably the stone missing between it and number 2 would have marked the equinox sunrise. It is thought that one of the key functions of Nine Stone Close would have been to help with eclipse prediction by following variations in the path of the midsummer full Moon using the nearby Robin Hood’s Stride rock formation.

    Peak District National Park - Nine Stone Close stone circle

    Stanton Moor stone circles
    click here for map

    General

    There are two important circles in the area, the Nine Ladies (on the moor itself) and Doll Tor (on the above map by Eagle Tor - click here for a photo of how to get there from the Andle stone). Much has been published about these elsewhere so this site does not offer any detail. Doll Tor was unofficially reconstructed in 1993 and the mistakes from that were put right by English Heritage in 1994. Stanton Moor contains several other ring structures as well as a large number of Bronze Age burial mounds. Two of the rings are like miniature henges and regarded by many as stone circles although no standing stones are evident. It is possible that they are the remains (or beginnings) of burial cairns. In addition to the burial mounds, there is a prehistoric field, it is about 150m north of the main burial mound on the left of the main path - it is visible as a low bank of earth and is not particularly obvious because of the vegetation. For photos of Doll Tor and other Stanton Moor relics click here.

    There are two natural rock formations of importance in the area - the Cork Stone and the Andle Stone. Both of which can be easily climbed if you have a head for heights. The Andle Stone lies off the main moor (simply marked as ‘stone’ above Eagle Tor on the map). A line from the Nine Ladies circle through it outlying King Stone points towards the Andle Stone (not visible from the circle) and on to Doll Tor circle. The latter was late in the development of the area and is very small. Its axis points towards the Nine Stones Close circle on nearby Harthill moor. Other Doll Tor alignments seem to relate to Bronze Age barrows on nearby prominent hills.

    In the wooded area at the northern end more recent archaeology is linked to the quarrying that has taken place on the moor.

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    Copyright - Chevinside Publications 2002 - 2007. If you use any material from this site please credit it accordingly and link to our site. This page was last updated on Tuesday, October 16, 2007. The information on this Peak District web site is given in good faith and is for information only, we cannot be held responsible for how the information is subsequently used. You should satisfy yourself of the correctness before visiting or contacting these Peak District attractions or businesses.
     

     

     

     

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