Isle of Albion
Photographed: Monday 22nd September 2003
Other Names: The Grey Ladies
Site rating:

Nine Stones Close is the remains of a 15 metre diameter stone circle. The site is situated on Harthill Moor, close to the village of Elton and a short distance from the imposing outcrop know as Robin Hood's Stride.

Opinion is divided regarding the number of stones that originally constituted this circle, but there may have been as many as eleven. When excavations were carried out in 1847, seven stones were still standing. The four stones that remain today are the tallest in the Peak District, with the largest rising to over two metres. Of the missing stones, at least one is visible embedded within the nearby dry stone wall.

In 1936, two of the stones were leaning badly enough to prompt intervention. A local archaeologist assembled a team and the stones were re-erected and set in concrete.

The origin of the name "Nine Stones" is unclear. It may date back to an earlier time when more stones survived, but nine is a number commonly associated with such sites and it may bear little relation to the actual number of stones.

The circle is also known as "The Grey Ladies" after the local tradition that the stones are transformed to dancing women at midnight - dancing and transformation being two myths commonly associated with stone circles.

Nine Stones Close lies away from the official footpath, sitting in a secluded spot in the corner of a field, nestled against a wall beneath the shadow of an oak tree. It's a quintessentially English scene that might have leapt straight out of the pages of a story-book. The landscape is soft, gentle and timeless, and although the stones are large and imposing, they huddle together in a postcard cluster that makes them more welcoming than daunting. Perhaps it's this incongruous nature that lends them an air of Blyton-esque mystery. Glance over your shoulder, and you'll expect to see a brightly painted gypsy caravan.

When visiting, be sure to look out for the solitary standing stone that can be seen nestled in a hedgerow to your left as you begin the climb towards Robin Hood's Stride. And bring a picnic. This is a place where you'll want to linger.