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Monument record MDR3735 - Nine Ladies Stone Circle (Stanton Moor II), Stanton in the Peak

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

The Nine Ladies stone circle appears to have been first recorded in 1782, when a 'druid temple' is documented as having nine stones and being known locally as the 'Nine Ladies'. The monument is described as follows: “The diameter of the circle eleven yards; the stones are about two feet six inches high; there appears to have been one in the centre”. An accompanying drawing shows a circle of nine standing stones with a feature in the centre suggestive of a recumbent stone or a small mound. (1) A sketch of the site published in 1829 appears to be an original drawing, rather than a reworking of Rooke’s drawing, and again shows nine standing stones, but the detail is not clear enough to be sure whether any internal features are represented. The site is described as follows: ‘About half a mile north-east from the Router Rocks, on Stanton Moor, is a druidical circle, eleven yards in diameter, called The Nine Ladies, composed of the same number of rude stones, from three to four feet in height, and of different breadths. A single stone named the King stands at the distance of thirty-four yards.' (2) Bateman's description of the site is that published in Glover's Directory, accompanied by a drawing of the circle with a large intact mound at its centre, although this is probably not a true representation (see Authority 15 below). (3) The 1st edition 25” Ordnance Survey map of 1879 shows the monument surrounded by an enclosing feature, probably the drystone wall which survived until 1985. (4) A detailed early description relates that the banking measured ten feet wide and two feet high and was broken by two entrances. It would appear that by this time one of the stones had fallen. (5) A plan of the site in the 1930s shows a continuous circular bank, no entrances and no internal mound. (6). A later description by Heathcote does not mention entrances, but does mention nine uprights – it is possible that between 1907 and 1947 the fallen stone had been re-erected. Heathcote also says “The Nine Ladies had a small cairn in the centre which is now somewhat scattered”. (7) Scheduled. In the charge of the Minister. (8) Besides the nine standing stones, the top of a tenth stone is visible. It is quite small in relation to its neighbours and may not be part of the original circle. The stones are all unworked, undecorated, composed of hard millstone, and show signs of weathering. The centre of the circle is hummocky and uneven and has every appearance of having originally been a mound; no trace of a centre stone could be found. The outer bank cannot be traced with certainty, and it might well be spoil from an early excavation, or from the MOW's erection of the modern surrounding wall. (9) Published 1/2,500 survey of circle revised, King Stone [HER 30324] surveyed at 1/2,500. Report of 18.8.52 (9) correct. See G.P.s:- AO 52/53/5-7 Stone Circle, 66/4/ 7&8 Panorama of Stone Circle. (10) On the northern part of Stanton Moor 'is the embanked stone circle of the Nine Ladies, small, its unremarkable stones, like so many of the later rings in Derbyshire, set in a low rubble bank that is difficult to appreciate, like its entrances at north-west and south-east, because of an ugly stone wall that has been built around it (Fig. 48). To the south-west is an outlier, the slablike King Stone…' [see HER 30324 for the King Stone]. (11) Nine Ladies is 35 feet in diameter, with ten stones. A miniature cup (now in the Ashmolean Museum) is said to have come from the stone circle in 1784. (12) The Nine Ladies on Stanton Moor was surveyed by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) in February 1987. The stone circle is situated within a small clearing in birch woodland on a north-facing slope. It consists of nine standing stones and one recumbent stone situated around the inner edge of a near-circular earth and stone bank with an external diameter of 15m. All the stones are of weathered gritstone. The upright stones vary from between 0.3m and 0.9m in height. The siting of upright stones on the inner edge of a ring bank is a common feature in Derbyshire stone circles. Within the interior of the circle a heavily disturbed area, 5m in diameter, represents the remnants of an inner mound. There is now no evidence of there having been a stone in the centre as alleged by Rooke in 1782. Within the rest of the inner area of the circle are scarps and hollows probably associated with illicit digging and tree removal hollows. Weathering and foot erosion, especially since the demolition of the drystone wall in 1985, has significantly contributed to the overall poor condition of the monument. The bank itself has been heavily eroded as well as defaced by sheep scrapes and howks. (13) Areas of erosion are visible around the inside foot of all the stones, with other bare patches elsewhere. The central area is fire blackened. (14) This embanked stone circle lies amongst trees on a flat area of moor at 295m OD. It is within an extensive cairnfield and forms part of a line of ceremonial sites which cross the moor. There are ten orthostats on the inner edge of a bank, in an 11.5 x 10.5m ring. Nine stand, although one may be only a stump, and they range in height from 0.45m to 0.9m. The tenth stone has fallen outwards; this was buried until dug out in 1977 by a small illicit excavation. Originally there were probably eleven orthostats in the ring, spaced evenly round its circumference. The bank is badly denuded and is only partially traceable. Originally it was probably c. 2m wide with an external diameter of c. 15m. For many years a drystone wall surrounded the site by the outer edge of the bank; it was removed in 1985. The site is coming under increasing threat due to rising visitor numbers leading to erosion and to minor acts of vandalism. At the centre of the site is the low rim of a mutilated cairn with a diameter of 5m. Its centre has been removed and is frequently subject to fire damage. Virtually the only change to the site since first recorded by Rooke in 1782 is the central area, where he had noted an apparent central stone; his drawings suggest a recumbent stone or very small cairn, possibly the vestiges of a cist. A drawing of 1833 shows no central feature; Bateman in 1848, on the other hand, shows a large intact cairn in the central area but this probably is artistic licence. By 1870, when Jewitt described the site, the cairn was certainly disturbed and was probably in a similar state to today. It is uncertain whether Rooke excavated here in the late 18th century, as has been claimed, and there may have been some confusion between this site and Stanton Moor I. (15) The scheduling was revised in 1995, to cover all remains on Stanton Moor, from the Bronze Age to the early 20th century. (16) A programme of repeated spot-height surveys undertaken by Trent and Peak Archaeological Trust on behalf of English Heritage between 1987 and 1997 revealed the extent of erosion through visitor pressure. Some parts of the site, especially around the perimeter of the circle, were found to have been reduced by as much as 12cm. (17) Photographic record. (18-20) 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. (21) A digital copy of a water-colour and site plan of Nine Ladies, made by General Pitt-Rivers, was sent to the HER via the Pitt Rivers Museum. It was drawn in 1883 when he was first Inspector of Ancient Monuments. It is from a newly-discovered album of images donated to the museum by the Pitt-Rivers family. (22)

Sources/Archives (22)

  • <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.. pp 110-5.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Glover, T. 1829. History and Gazetteer of Derbyshire. Volume 1.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Bateman, T. 1848. Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire. p 112.
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1882. OS County Series, 1st edition, scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile).
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Andrew, W. 1907. 'The Prehistoric Stone Circles' in Cox, J (ed) Memorials of Old Derbyshire. pp 70-8, 82.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Armitage, H. 1939. Early Man in Hallamshire. p 212.
  • <7> Bibliographic reference: Heathcote, J. 1947. Birchover: Its Prehistoric and Druidical Remains.
  • <8> Scheduling record: Ministry of Works. 1961. Ancient Monuments of England and Wales. 23315.
  • <9> Personal Observation: F1 FDC 18-AUG-52.
  • <10> Personal Observation: F2 JB 25-MAY-66.
  • <11> Bibliographic reference: Burl, A. 1976. The Stone Circles of the British Isles. p 291.
  • <12> Bibliographic reference: Marsden, B. 1986. The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire (revised edition). p 94.
  • <13> Bibliographic reference: Ainsworth, S (RCHME). 1987. Stanton Moor, Derbyshire, A Catalogue of Archaeological Monuments, Part 1. Heathcote: 73.
  • <14> Personal Observation: Smith, K (PPJPB). K Smith (Peak Park Joint Planning Board) personal communication. 3.10.1989.
  • <15> Monograph: Barnatt, J. 1990. The Henges, Stone Circles and Ringcairns of the Peak District. pp 76-771, gazeteer no. 41; Fig. 43.
  • <16> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1995. Scheduling Notification. 23315. cat No.: 365.
  • <17> Article in serial: Guilbert, G (TPAT). 1999. 'Fieldwork by Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust in Derbyshire, 1997', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal.
  • <18> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Colour photograph collection. Film. 517.1-2, 509.8-25, 509.1-4.
  • <19> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Black and white photograph collection. 407.6-11, 414.5, 414.11-15, 414.24-31, 414.36, 489.1-5, 422.0a-5a, 462.2a-4a, 462.6a-11a, 407.6a-7,.
  • <20> Photograph: Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA). Slide Collection. 12908.1-88, 12908.88-91.
  • <21> 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.
  • <22> Photograph: Photograph Collection, Conservation & Design section, Derbyshire County Council. HER Images (digital).



Grid reference Centred SK 24911 63493 (16m by 16m) (Surveyed)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (4)

  • EDR3614
  • EDR3978
  • EDR1199
  • EDR1390

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Record last edited

Feb 29 2016 12:25PM

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