Isle of Albion
One of Dartmoor's remote stone circles.
Photographed: Sunday 7th March 2010
Other Names: Stall Moor, The Dancers
Site rating:  

Kiss in the Ring is a stone circle approximately 16.5m in diameter, consisting of 26 stones in varying states of repair. The tallest stone rises to around 1.5m. The remaining stones are all under a metre in height. The circle lies at the southern extremity of the world's longest stone row, which runs for around 3.5km. It is believed that all the original stones are present, and this site has never been the subject of restoration work.

The stone circle takes its name from the story surrounding its creation. Legend has it that a group of youngsters angered god by playing the old English game of "kiss in the ring" on the sabbath day. In his rage, he turned them all to stone.

Another version of the story tells how youngsters gathered to dance on the sabbath, and were again turned to stone by an angry god. In this version, many attempted to flee, and it is those unfortunate souls who were transformed into the stone row. This myth gives the circle it's alternate name - "The Dancers".

Finally, the site also goes by the prosaic name of "Stall Moor Stone Circle", lacking the romantic flair of the site's other epithets. I prefer the former names, since they help to keep alive the traditions and legends of Dartmoor.

Kiss in the Ring is a remote stone circle, reached via a two hour walk across rough and potentially dangerous terrain. The land is difficult underfoot, and is often obstructed by patches of marsh and bog - even in dry weather. For the reasonably fit, this shouldn't pose an obstacle on a clear, dry day. However, extreme caution should be exercised during inclement or unpredictable weather. Dartmoor is notorious for its swiftly-descending mists, and this isn't a place where you'd want to be stuck after dark with the temperature dropping, rain clouds moving in, and no clear route back to civilisation.

The upside is that this gloriously hostile environment is raw, rugged, and breathtakingly beautiful. You're unlikely to encounter another living soul during the four-hour round trip to this site, and the isolation is exquisite. The terrain offers stunning views across bleak, sweeping, moorland vistas. Peat-blackened rivers and streams cut across the landscape like dark wounds. Gnarled trees huddle together along the banks, sheltering from the blustery winds. Dartmoor ponies can frequently be seen from a distance, strangely unconcerned by and disinterested in passing strangers. Ancient sheep are more wary, perching on rocks and staring suspiciously at the intruders upon their domain.

The stone circle itself is fairly unassuming. I visited in early spring/late winter, and I can imagine that the summer grass could easily obscure many of the stones. Nevertheless, the location is without equal, and I wouldn't hesitate to return to this site at the first opportunity.