Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Doll Tor stone circle, Birchover in the Peak District

Doll Tor, a minature bronze age beauty tucked away a little south of the better signposted Nine Ladies stone circle, north east of the ruined stone circle Nine Stones Close. A small cairn lies next to it, which seems to be slightly rearranged every time we visit. The cairn contained a cist which held a cremated female burial.

This bead found at the circle during an early excavation is thought to be from egypt, from around 1300 BC.

The circle was vandalised during the spring of 1995 and reconstructed in 1997 by a team of archaeologists, restoring it to bronze age condition. The photo in Julian Cope's Modern Antiquarian shows it meddled with,

. During a Heathcote excavation in the 1930s three of the stones were mysteriously smashed overnight, you can see the (deteriorated) cement joins holding them together.
The relatively modern woodlands surrounding the stones give it an atmosphere of calm and solitude that is missing from its companion Nine Ladies. I try to picture the place alone atop a moor as it must have been every time we visit and fail, I take solace in the fact that, tucked to the side of the proto-temple of the andle stone, its location always bore it more to the shelter of its landscape than to crown it. The quarry a few feet north of the stones is shockingly close, and gives me quiet horrors as to what could have been the fate of this place. I presume the local interest in archaeology borne of Thomas Bateman who lived in Birchover and excavated this site in 1852 saved it from certain doom.

You can look across from the edge of the woods by the circle to Robin Hoods Stride, and easily walk it should you wish to, I imagine with the trees clear you could view Doll Tor from Nine Stones Close and vice versa. We've seen many offerings and ribbon on the trees, but haven't once chanced upon any other visitors at any point, and we come here often. Halloween was particularly special, we put a lamp in the middle of the circle, the boys climbed the Andle stone in the dark (the girls + jeff sensibly abstained) and the stars were bright in the sky. We do sort of think of this place as ours, as I'm sure many other people do!

We found a fallen tree, with some rocks beneath its roots just beyond the cairn. There were some carvings on it, possibly a figure and an ear of corn.


  1. I'm looking for a photo of a stone circle to use on the cover of my next novel. Are you the original owner of the photo used above?

    1. Hi yes I am, if you'd like to use it you can email me at labyrinthina@gmail.com and i'll try and dig out the original :)