If you are planning to have a holiday in the Peak District to walk its hills and valleys, then why not seek out some of the area’s ancient stone circles? The stone circles of the Peak District date back to the late Neolithic period and the early Bronze Age; so much is still being discovered about their history to this day.
Shrouded in mystery and myth, stone circles open a portal to forgotten times, almost alien to us today. Step back in time and discover these magical and historic sites; they are always peaceful and moving places to spend your time. Many of these stone circles can be seen by combining a walk, so check out our handy guide to walking trails in the Peak District.
We have compiled a guide to the main stone circles in the Peak District. There used to be many more, and some are located on private estates; the ones that remain have been preserved for everybody to enjoy for many years to come. Stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages in the Peak District during your break. Click on the button below to view our collection of accommodation.
About stone circles
Stone circles are rings of standing stones and they often date back to 3000BC (the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age). Most stone circles are found in the UK, Ireland, and in Brittany in France. The best-known examples in the UK are Stonehenge, Avebury, and the Rollright Stones.
There is much speculation on, but little to confirm, the purpose of stone circles. They are thought to be connected to worship ceremonies whilst others may have been funerary in nature. Artefacts have often been excavated at the sites, and they are usually protected by a charity such as English Heritage. Much has been written on the subject and we’d recommend the following books as gateways to these fascinating monuments.
- Stone Circles by Hugh Newman (Wooden Books, 2017)
- Prehistoric Adventures – Stone Circles: Discover Stone, Bronze, and Iron Age Britain by John Malam (for under-10s) (Hachette/Orion 2017)
- Prehistoric Stone Circles by Aubrey Burl (Bloomsbury 2005)
Nine Ladies Stone Circle, near Bakewell
Nine Ladies Stone Circle is located on Stanton Moor near Bakewell (4.5 miles). This atmospheric stone circle is made up of ten (not nine) large stones set in a clearing of birch trees. The Nine Ladies were rediscovered by a historian in 1782 called Major Hayman Rooke. The King Stone is mentioned in Charles Dickens’ novel The Pickwick Papers, and the stories don’t stop there. The Nine Ladies are said to have been dancers who were turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath.
The true purpose of this monument is lost in time; like many stone circles, Nine Ladies Stone Circle could have been built for events, funerals, or a way station between the realms of the living and the dead, or the land and the sky. The site is managed by English Heritage and is a site of importance for modern-day druids and pagans, especially around Summer Solstice.
Good to know
- Where is Nine Ladies Stone Circle? Lees Road, Stanton-in-Peak, DE4 2LS. There is informal lay-by parking on Lees Road less than 0.25 miles from the circle
- Can I visit Nine Ladies Stone Circle? Yes, it is open to the public
- How much does it cost to visit Nine Ladies? Entrance is free
- Stay nearby: Garden House | sleeps 8 + 1 dog
Nine Stones Close, near Youlgreave
The similarly named Nine Stones Close are the tallest standing stones in the Peak District. Also known as the Grey Ladies, only four of seven stones remain on Harthill Moor. The purpose of this site is still unknown, but it did attract a lot of attention from archaeologists in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 1930s, some of the stones were stood up once more and set in concrete.
Various tumuli are found on Hartmill Moor and can still be seen today. Many prehistoric items have been found here, too, including food vessels, and flint and bronze axe heads. Legend has it that at midnight and midday, the stones can be seen to be dancing. Fairies have also been seen playing around the rocks. The name is said to have morphed from ‘noon’ stones, but it's possible there were nine stones at one time.
Just 400 metres away, you could climb a nearby crag called Robin Hood’s Stride, from which visitors can get a good view of Nine Stones Close. There is a small stone circle here too, which was used in the popular 1980s film, The Princess Bride as a shooting location.
Good to know
- Where is Nine Stones Close? Harthill, Matlock, DE 45 1LL. Park on nearby Giff Lane. Parking is informal as the circles are in the remote countryside
- Can I visit Nine Stones Close? Yes, it is open to the public
- How much does it cost to visit Nine Stones Close? Entrance is free
- Stay nearby: The Coach House | sleeps 2 + 2 dogs
Arbor Low Stone Circle and Gib Hill Barrow, near Buxton
The English Heritage-managed Arbor Low and Gib Hill Barrow lie 8 miles west of Bakewell and is the site of the best-known stone circle in the Peak District National Park. They are referred to as the Stone Henge of the north, Arbor Low’s 43 stones are made from limestone, unlike the others in the region (which are of millstone grit). Some surveys of the circle have speculated that it looks like a clock face, and several ley lines give the site extra mystique. All the stones at Arbor Low are lying down at the centre of its 2-metre-high circular bank.
Just 300 metres from the circle is Gib Hill Barrow, which is thought to have originated in the late Neolithic period or the early Bronze Age. There haven’t been any excavations at this site in over 100 years, however, human bones, grave goods, pottery and flint tools were found.
Good to know
- Where is Arbor Low? Long Rake, Monyash, Bakewell DE45 1JS
- Can I visit Arbow Low? Yes, it is open to the public
- How much does it cost to visit Arbor Low? Entrance is free
- Stay nearby: Number One, The Laurels | sleeps 4
Barbook I, II and III, near Hathersage
There are three stone circles in proximity of one another situated on Big Moor near Baslow. Barbook I is home to one large standing stone and 11 smaller stones that are surrounded by a 3-metre-tall rubble bank. In the same field, which is strewn with ancient cairns, is Barbrook II. It is a mere 200 metres away from the first circle. The third of the Barbrook stone circles is 1.5 miles away. Not much is known about these Scheduled Ancient Monuments except that the larger cairns in the immediate area are thought to be funerary and date back to the Bronze Age.
Good to know
- Where are the Barbrook stone circles? Barbook I and II – Latitude 53.276638N and Longitude 1.585289W | Barbook III – Latitude 53.291731N / Longitude 1.576461W
- Can I visit Barbrook’s stone circles? Yes, they are open to the public
- How much does it cost to visit Barbrook’s stone circles? Entrance is free
- Stay nearby: Baslow Cottage | sleeps 5
Doll Tor, Birchover
A few miles away from the Nine Ladies (4 miles) is the Peak District National Park’s prettiest stone circle, Doll Tor. Doll Tor consists of six diminutive stones (less than 1 metre tall) and a cairn that stands in a woodland clearing. Historic England and the National Park Authority maintain the site.
In 1994, the site was restored after persons unknown rearranged the existing circle the year before. The stones were also returned to their original Bronze Age positions and condition. In the 1930s, extensive excavations were made at the site by JP Heathcote. His team discovered tools, a flint knife, and numerous interments. Doll Tor is located in a plantation making it a beautiful destination to spend some time.
Good to know
- Where is Doll Tor? Birchover, Matlock DE4 2LY
- Can I visit Doll Tor? Yes, it is open to the public
- How much does it cost to visit Doll Tor? Entrance is free
- Stay nearby: Swallows Nest | sleeps 2
Stay at a Peak District self-catering holiday cottage
When you come to the Peak District to see its wonderful stone circles, why not book a break at one of our self-catering holiday cottages? We have a varied collection of accommodation to suit your needs. Browse our collection today.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.