Stone circle in Derbyshire was believed to be doorway to a magical world

The towering stones of Nine Stones Close - which form the tallest stone circle in Derbyshire - have inspired many a myth.'¨Standing two metres high, just four of these huge ancient rocks now remain in position.

Friday, 20th July 2018, 2:48 pm
Updated Friday, 20th July 2018, 2:52 pm

Their odd shape and massive weight make them look as though they have been forged by giants.

Indeed it’s the world of fantasy and magic that has inspired the folktales which have built up around them.

It’s said to be a place where the folk of faerie meet in their droves at midnight to dance to pipes and fiddles.

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Farmer Elijah Sheldon is said to have seen this magical world for himself after finding a “faerie pipe” which allowed him to be transported into the faerie world while leaning against the stones.

It’s said the earth beneath him became transparent as he puffed away. And after several visits he is said to have been adopted by the faeries as one of their own and still lives there today.

Other folktales tell of the stones - sometimes referred to as The Grey Ladies - dancing at midnight.

Stories such as these give an insight into the awe that the stones inspired in our ancestors in what became the village of Elton. It’s intriguing to think about how ancient ceremonies might have been conducted at this Bronze Age site when it is considered in relation to another impressive monument - the giant stone outcrop of Robin Hood’s Stride - only a few hundred metres away.

Could the stride - which incidentally featured in an episode of The Return of Sherlock Holmes and the 1987 film The Princess Bride - have served as a sacred altar with offerings made to pagan gods?

The proximity of the stones in relation to other prominent stone circles is also a matter worth considering. They are within walking distance of the circles on Stanton Moor such as Doll Tor and Nine Ladies.

Clearly this area was a incredibly important sacred area in ancient times.

How did the families that used these sites interact and were the circles connected in some way? Or did they have different purposes?