When Four Stones Become Nine
The Derbyshire Peak District boasts several impressive stone circles, and I feel this one deserves more attention than it gets. This is Nine Stones Close and it stands on Harthill Moor near the village of Elton.
The stones used to be called the Grey Ladies but a folklore tale emerged during the 1800s that told how they would uproot themselves at midday and midnight then dance in a circle, so it is thought that "Noon Stones" became "Nine Stones". There is no record of their ever being nine stones, but antiquarians have recorded seven and then six.
At least one stone from the circle ended up in a dry stone wall on the edge of the field, and I spotted another possible candidate for one in the next. The wall probably collapsed in one area and so the farmer just dragged a stone across and filled in the gap, rather than spend a day repairing it. We might be horrified at this kind of vandalism today but this was a fact of life in the centuries before the revival of interest in ancient sites after the work of William Stukeley and others.
This is a simply beautiful location for these stones, and they are quite unique in that they are much larger than most of the stones in the Peak District such as the Nine Ladies and Hordron Edge. The distinctive silhouette of Robin Hood's Stride is visible on the horizon behind Nine Stones Close and this was probably a deliberate factor in their positioning during the early Bronze Age.
I take a good look at some of the ancient sites of the Peak District in my books The Mystery Of Mercia volumes I and II, available at the link in the comments.