Monument record MDR5106 - The Seven Brethren stone circle (destroyed), Matlock Moor, Matlock Town

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

'Seven Brides' stone circle, with a diameter of 25 ft, stood at the south-eastern end of Matlock Moor, but is now destroyed. It was described by Rooke in 1784 (the manuscript is in Sheffield City Museum), at which time it had seven stones. (1) Also known as Seven Brideron. This stone circle was almost certainly destroyed in the 19th century, probably before Bateman and other local antiquarians of this era had a chance to visit it. The only surviving account is in the unpublished notebooks of Hayman Rooke. Rooke visited the circle in October 1784, noting it as being on the south-eastern end of Matlock Moor with two large barrows and several small ones nearby. Much of Matlock Moor is now enclosed and/or afforested. He described the site as having a diameter of 25 feet (7.5m) with the tallest stone being 7 feet (2.1m) high. His drawings confirm that one stone is much taller than the other six. Of the latter, one is clearly upright and two are fallen, the others are ambiguously drawn. There appears to be one wide gap in the spacing, suggesting at least one stone had been removed by this date. Although Rooke's handwriting is a little difficult on occasion, the name Seven Brideron seems certain, despite the obscure etymology of Brideron. Previously, authors have rationalised this to Brides or Brethren but this is erroneous. The name would suggest the site was once well known locally and that associated folklore existed. (3) A further unpublished account of this site has come to light apparently made by Samuel Pegge. This clarifies both the location and the design of the site. He gives details of how to find it and from these, two possible sites can be identified; however, neither of these squares easily with Rooke's observations that the circle was at the south-eastern end of Matlock Moor. Possibly he accidentally transposed north with south and was uncertain of the exact course of parish boundaries. This would allow a location nearer to the road and more clearly visible from it, as in Pegge's account, possibly centred at c. SK 307642. Pegge called the stone circle the 'Seven Brethren' and described it as oval, 9 by 7 yards with the longer diameter north/south. There were nine stones present rather than the seven visible on Rooke's drawing, and Pegge confirms the large gap where a stone was apparently missing. It is also likely that the stone circle was embanked, as is usual in the Peak District. (4) Using a boundary award dated 1779 two recent estimates have been made of the location of the Seven Brethren stone circle, both falling within 250m of each other. The first of these placed it at approximately SK 310632, at the corner of a present-day forestry plantation; the second suggests it was at c. SK 312633, near the north-western end of the plantation. (5, 6) Although the boundary award plan appears somewhat schematic at first glance, registering it against modern maps (using Sanderson's map of 1835 as an intermediate) suggests that it is in fact relatively accurate. This provided a central grid reference for the stone circle of circa SK 3116 6337. (7) Sketch of the site done by Rooke. (8) 'Brideron' is speculated to be a local pronounciation of 'brethren'. It appears that the location of the stone circle is ambiguious and may have been confused with a number of stone circles (smaller, but also destroyed) in the area. A circle is shown of the 1687 map of preambulation of Ashover Parish called Seven Brethren and depicted as four circles (three more than suggested by Rooke). Nuttall's map of 1777, however, does show other stones circles in different places, and so a process of elimination and known positions could be used to determine which remaining one is The Seven Brethren; the Harland Stone, the Crowder Stone and two further boundary stone at Cardinshaw all are marked before and have bee n used to place the approximate location of The Seven Brethren around SK 310 631 and SK 315 629. (9)

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Index: North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust (NDAT). North Derbyshire Archaeological Trust Index: 1450. 1450.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Marsden, B. 1977. The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire. p104.
  • <3> Monograph: Barnatt, J. 1990. The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District. p 68.
  • <4> Article in serial: Barnatt, J (PPJPB). 1996. 'Recent research at Peak District stone circles, including restoration work at Barbrook II and Hordron Edge, and new fieldwork elsewhere', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 116, pp 27-48. pp 44-45.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Henstock, A. 1976. Letter dated 18/7/96 to J Barnatt (PDNPA) re the Seven Brethren on Matlock Moor.
  • <6> Correspondence: Edwards, D. 2010. Letter dated 10/9/2010 to J Barnatt (PDNPA) regarding the 'Seven Brideron' stone circle. Letter.
  • <7> Personal Observation: Stroud, G. Personal observation, map evidence, field visit etc..
  • <8> Unpublished document: Rooke, H. 1789. MS sketchbooks, Sheffield City Museum.
  • <9> Correspondence: Wigglesworth, G. 2005. Email regarding research on the location of the Seven Brethren Stone Circle, 12th May, 2005. Email.



Grid reference Centred SK 31 63 (306m by 381m) (Approximate)

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Record last edited

Aug 20 2015 11:02AM

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