(All images by Urban Ghosts)
Stanton Moor near the village of Birchover in the Peak District National Park is dotted with Bronze Age earthworks, barrows and monuments, chief among them the Nine Ladies stone circle. Consisting of nine small standing stones made from local millstone grit, the circle’s original purpose remains enigmatic but to this day serves as the epicenter of druid and neo-pagan activity in the area, especially around the time of the solstices, equinoxes and cross-quarter days.
More recent folklore holds that the monument represents nine women turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath. They were, according to popular belief at the time, accompanied by a fiddler who is represented by the King Stone, located 40 metres west-south-west of the main circle.
The King Stone is also known for its graffiti, including the carved name ‘Bill Stumps’, which was mentioned in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. In recent years, clooties and other votive offerings have appeared on a nearby tree, underscoring the ongoing importance of the site to modern pagans.
Nine Ladies stone circle was one of various Bronze Age relics recognised by the Ancient Monuments Protection Act of 1882. Plans to reopen two dormant quarries in 1999 just 200 metres from the circle were eventually revoked in 2008, ensuring Stanton Moor remained to the quiet and mysterious place it was thousands of years ago.