The magic of stone circles

STONE CIRCLES Stone circles are fascinating structures left millennia ago by our ancestors, they were created to track the motion of the sun, moon and planets, they were spiritual sites where rituals were held on solstice and equinox, offerings of crops and livestock were presented there in return for a forgiving climate and bountiful coming year. Nine ladies stone circle is a neolithic bronze age stone circle consisting of 9 stones standing 1m tall and a lone king stone set back overlooking the ladies. Folklore has it the 9 ladies were turned to stone for dancing on the sabbath. The structure sits atop Stanton moor edge 300m above Darley dale in the valley below, just north of Matlock, in the Peak district, UK.

More than 70 stone cairns and barrows are known, and excavations over the years have shown

that many served as places of burial. The most evocative and well-known of these monuments is the Nine Ladies Stone Circle and the King Stone, set 40 metres (131 feet) to the west-south-west of the circle.

Despite the name, there are 10 stones within the circle, the tenth (which has fallen and now lies flat) having been located in 1977. The stones are set on the inner edge of a slight bank, and form a ring which measures 11.5 x 10.5 metres (38 x 34 feet). The monument was first recorded by Major Hayman Rooke in 1782. He noted that there appeared to be stones in the centre of the

ring, which may have formed a small cairn or ‘cist’.

The names of the monuments derive from their associations with folk traditions, in which it is said that nine women were dancing on the Sabbath to a fiddler – the King Stone – and were turned to stone. The graffiti carved on the King Stone, which includes the name ‘Bill Stumps’, is also mentioned in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens.

The nine ladies was a place for ceremony or burial, a territorial marker, a link between the earth and the sky, the living and the dead, and a meeting place for seasonal events. Such monuments had many functions, their uses and spiritual significance shifting over time.

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