Tuesday, 19 March 2013

The Nine Ladies

On Sunday we walked up to Stanton Moor and paid a fleeting visit to the Nine Ladies

Stanton Moor is in a fine position overlooking both the Derwent and Wye valleys. Possibly it is for this reason that it was chosen as a centre by the Bronze Age inhabitants of the area, who have left so many traces of their occupation upon the moor.

The moor contains at least 70 barrows as well as stone circles, ancient enclosures and standing stones and is of such interest to archaeologists that the whole area is now protected. However, don't go expecting anything on the scale of Stonehenge, or even Arbor Low - most of the monuments and remains are very small-scale and overgrown with heather.

The best known monument is the Nine Ladies Stone Circle, which lies at the centre of the moor - a low circle of worn gritstone blocks in a lovely location. Just to the south is a small standing stone - the King's Stone - and these are probably only a small part of what was once some sort of ceremonial area.

Most of the other famous stones around the moor are natural in origin - the Cat Stone, Cork Stone and Andle or Aingle Stone (which lies down to the west, below the moor) - but this has not prevented colourful legends accumulating about their origins or uses - mostly linking them with Druids, despite a complete lack of archaeological evidence.

We've visited the Nine Ladies quite a few times over the years. Some seem to find the monument symbolic of something or other - modern druids having rather taken to the place. I saw a few bunches of what looked like sage tied to the branches of a nearby tree.

Others think the Nine Ladies are evil and were the site of human sacrifice - virgins of course being a speciality. Some claim to have seen a variety of ghosts lurking in its eerie penumbra.

However, no matter how hard I try to fathom the purpose of this ancient circle of stones, I get nothing back. The thing is a mystery - we simply don't know why it was built.

Its size is unimpressive, especially when one thinks of Stonehenge. As we moved on to finish our walk, I wondered if it might be an ancient community service project.


Angus Dei said...

Would that be using wheel "barrows" AK?

Anonymous said...

"I wondered if it might be an ancient community service project"

Nah, it's those Paddy builders again, never finish a job - just like Stonehenge, no sign of a roof!

James Higham said...

They'd have trouble finding virgins these days.

A K Haart said...

Angus - B&Q barrows are all they would need for these stones.

David - no need for a roof - it was warm in those days.

James - nine would be tricky.