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Monument record MDR13408 - King Stone, Nine Ladies Stone Circle, Stanton Moor, Stanton in the Peak

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

This stone was first referred to by Hayman Rooke in 1782, when it was described as follows: "at thirty-four yards west of the temple [Nine Ladies] is a single stone, which they have named the King". It is also depicted on a drawing accompanying the text. (1) 'At the north [of Stanton Moor] is the embanked stone circle of the Nine Ladies … an ugly stone wall has been built around it. To the south-west is an outlier, the slablike King Stone, 58 cm of millstone grit, scratched with graffiti, trapped meaninglessly inside another wall.' (2) By the time of publication of the 1st ed. 25" Ordnance Survey map in 1879, the stone had been encircled by a feature, probably the drystone wall referred to by Pitt-Rivers when he visited the site in 1883. He described the stone as being about two foot 10 inches high and having been "disfigured by a foolish inscription". It comprises an almost rectangular gritstone orthostat, 0.9m above ground level, 0.55m wide by 0.25m thick at the base. It shows no evidence of decoration or working, although it has been inscribed with graffiti. The first description of the site to include measurements of the stone was in 1907, when it was interpreted as being a 'pointer' for the Nine Ladies. It was later interpreted as being part of an avenue or alignment similar to those seen with Dartmoor circles, while more recent commentators suggest that it was an outlier of the Nine Ladies. Many outlying stones have been recorded in association with stone circles, and it seems probable that the King Stone should be considered in this context. It appears to stand within the remnants of a newly discovered ring bank. This ovoid-shaped feature measures 14.6m by 12m and is formed principally by a low earth and rubble bank with a dished interior. Numerous slight hollows indicate the sites of grubbed out trees. The level of erosion is greater since the demolition of the drystone wall, the construction and subsequent removal of which has partially destroyed the inner northern arc of the ring bank. There is little ground evidence to suggest either a contemporaneous or chronological relationship between the ring bank and the King Stone. (3) In 1989 it was noted that a piece had been chipped off the north-east corner of the King Stone. (4) Forty metres to the west-south-west of the Nine Ladies embanked stone circle is a 0.9m high orthostat, set radially to the circle and known as 'the King Stone'. It is set on a low stone platform. Today it leans slightly and has sustained some recent damage from a fire lit at its base. The wall that stood around this stone has been removed. (5) The main graffiti on the King Stone is the incised name 'BILL STUMPS', with the word BILL appearing relatively neat and even, and STUMPS more crudely and irregularly carved. It is clear from Pitt-Rivers' notebook that this name was already present in 1883. There are also three symbols - an upright cross, an upright oval '0',and an almost equal-armed '+'. More recent graffiti has also been added. In Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers, published in 1836-7, Mr Pickwick discovers an inscription 'rudely carved' by a labourer called Bill Stumps, and the carving on the King Stone probably therefore dates from the mid-19th century, reflecting the enormous popularity of Dickens' novel. (6) The wall enclosing the King Stone and Nine Ladies were removed in 1984; however a misunderstanding led to the King Stone and the stone circle being partly buried in quarry waste in 1987. Although the material was removed from the stone circle, that around the King Stone was turfed over. Later damage included the breaking of the King Stone at ground level after a vehicle was backed into it in 1990. In November 2000 a trench was excavated with specific objectives. This was unable to identify the extent of the foundation-pit for the King Stone, which appears to lie hard against the northern edge of a pit which has no obvious stone-packing. It did, however, establish that the earthworks recorded by the RCHME in the 1980s and suggested to be a ring cairn are, in fact, of no great antiquity and probably not related to the monument. The 19th century wall around the King Stone survived merely as a spread of mortar laid on the old ground surface and it appears, therefore, that the wall had been built without foundations. (7) Excavations took place in 2000 to assess the extent of modern disturbance on surviving anthropogenic deposits of ancient origin. It is evident that the interior of the stone circle had been levelled at some stage to create a fairly flat area and the surrounding bank or 'vallum' was probably very pronounced. The wall that was constructed 1877 has since been removed (1985) had created a slight ditch around the perimeter of the site that was misinterpreted in the early 1900s and before as a marker of a prehistoric boundary to the site. There has since been debate on earthworks and ground marking revealed since the deconstruction of the wall, questioning if they do or do not mark a boundary to the site. Based on the surveys conducted in the late 1990s, a further fieldwork programme was organised, in anticipation for repair work on the site. It is clear that the stones had been worn down and eroded from people visiting the site, therefore excavations were determined to be needed to better inform archaeological management. Exploratory excavations found no artefacts around the standing stones or the 'King Stone', however, natural geological processes had weathered the blocks in situ, and the 'embanked' stone circle to the east of the site presented a 'ridge' of undisturbed subsoil defining the circle, suggesting that the interior of the stone-circle was more dished than levelled creating a raised rim of around the edge, creating a feature similar in appearance to a shallow pond, with the possibility that the stones were added at a later stage. Excavating around the 'King Stone' hoped that useful soil data for dating or palaeo-environmental information could be obtained, however the staragraphic information was of little use, consisting mainly of quarry-waste re-deposits, however it does suggest that the stone was refashioned and re-erected at another time. (8)

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Article in serial: Rooke, H. 1782. 'An account of some Druidical Remains on Stanton and Hartle Moor in the Peak, Derbyshire', Archaeologia, 1782. Vol. 6..
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Burl, A. 1976. The Stone Circles of the British Isles. p 291.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Ainsworth, S (RCHME). 1987. Stanton Moor, Derbyshire, A Catalogue of Archaeological Monuments, Part 1.
  • <4> Personal Observation: Smith, K (PPJPB). K Smith (Peak Park Joint Planning Board) personal communication. 3.10.1989.
  • <5> Monograph: Barnatt, J. 1990. The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District.
  • <6> Article in serial: Guilbert, G. 2001. ''Foolishly inscribed' but well connected - graffiti on the King, Stanton Moor', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 121, pp 190-195.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Garton, D. 2002. Nine Ladies, Stanton Moor: Evaluation of the Embanked Stone-Circle and King Outlier. HER Doc. No. 571.
  • <8> Article in serial: Guilbert, G & Garton, D. 2010. 'Nine Ladies, Stanton Moor: Surface Survey and Exploratory Excavations in Response to Erosion, 1988-2000' Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol 130, pages 1-62.



Grid reference Centred SK 2487 6347 (4m by 4m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR3614
  • EDR3978

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Record last edited

Jun 16 2015 3:08PM

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