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Nine Ladies stone circle, Stanton Moor

The secrets of

Stanton Moor

Peak District

Spectacular views, beautiful walking trails, and fascinating historical features: Stanton Moor, in the UK's Peak District, is a special place

Stanton Moor is a place of history, mystery and legend. The whole moor is a Scheduled Monument – making it amongst the most important historic and archaeological sites in the country.

With hundreds of archaeological features and monuments scattered across the moor, there's lots to see. A network of different footpaths makes it easy to visit the main sites – and in doing so you can find out a little more about the lives and beliefs of the people who lived here more than 3,000 years ago.

The most impressive of the archaeological remains is the Nine Ladies – a Bronze Age stone circle, traditionally believed to be nine ladies who were turned to stone as a punishment for dancing on the Sabbath. A tenth stone – the King Stone – represents the fiddler who provided the music.

Nine Ladies stone circle

The stones were part of an embanked stone circle created between 2,000 and 1,500 BC, and were probably used as a place of worship and astronomical observation.

There are three further stone circles – although these are quite hard to find – as well as dozens of Bronze Age burial mounds dotted around amongst the heather.

Another prominent feature on Stanton Moor is the Cork Stone. It's one of several rock pillars that have been given names – others nearby include the Cat Stone and the Heart Stone. These rocky outcrops may have had sacred significance for ancient people, but nowadays the Cork Stone is a magnet for climbers – the carved footholds and strategically placed metal handles make it a little easier to reach the top.

Cork Stone, Stanton Moor
Earl Grey Tower, Stanton Moor

If you follow the path along the edge of the moor, you'll arrive at the Earl Grey Tower. Built by the Thornhill family of Stanton Hall to commemorate the 1832 Reform Act, the tower was named after Charles Grey, who was Prime Minister at the time.

The Thornhill family were also responsible for some of the crests, initials and dates that you might notice carved into rocks around the moor.

Strange sightings

It's not just ancient monuments that make Stanton Moor a bit mystical. If you visit the moor at night it's supposed to be a good location for UFO spotting. There's even a prime location for such sightings – an old, twisted pine tree not far from the Nine Ladies has been dubbed 'The UFO Tree' by locals.

Even if you don't catch a glimpse of any strange lights in the sky, you should get a fantastic view of the stars. Minimal light pollution here means that Stanton Moor is a great place for stargazing on a clear night – head for the trig point at the highest point of the moor for the best view.

Windswept tree on Stanton Moor

If visiting the moor at night, take a torch – the footpaths are rocky and uneven, and can be slippery after rain. And watch out for ghosts – it's said that the edge of the moor is haunted by the spirit of a large black dog, and there are also tales of a hooded figure, and a women dressed in white.

Green Adventures September 2022