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Arbour Low (Peak District)

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Ordnance Survey Grid Reference: SK161636

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      09.04.2013 21:19
      Very helpful
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      Derbyshire's stone henge

      Arbor Low

      In Derbyshire we have our own version of Stonehenge which is virtually unheard of around this country never mind further afield in other countries. In fact I had lived in Derbyshire all my teenage years and never heard of it until a few years ago someone mentioned it to me and of course I had to go and investigate it further.

      Arbor Low is just off the A515 Buxton- Ashbourne road and is easily accessed by a minor road which goes from from Parsley Hey to Youlgrave. It is about 7 miles south of Buxton. The site is on private property in a farmer's field and they have kindly provided a small car park just beyond the main farm buildings. Although he site is on private property it is managed by the Peak District National Park Authority.

      If you are heading there by public transport there is only a bus option as the railway was closed years ago. You can get a train as far as Buxton then change to another form of transport. The 181 bus from Hartington to Sheffield passes along the road below Arbor Low. The 202 bus between Ashbourne and Buxton connects with this at Hartington and also goes through Parsley Hey but then sadly you will have to walk 2km to reach Arbor Low.

      Arbor Low is open all year around and there are no fancy guided tours you just put the suggested pound donation in an honesty box hnear the farmn gate and then walk to the site which is a good fresh walk up the mound and it catches the winds from all directions so in winter be prepared for a refreshing walk. You can bring your dogs but they must be on leads while on the site as it is on a farm property.

      The name Arbor Low is apparently derived from 'Eorthburg Hlaw', which means 'earthwork mound'.
      This is the most important prehistoric site of the East Midlands and is a Neolithic henge monument but very much less obvious than the famous one in Wiltshire for the average visitor. It is set high on a mound in the Derbyshire high peak moorland. What you see when visiting is a circle of limestone slabs in various stages of having fallen and become partially buried. The stones surround a central stone 'cove' and are all within an earthen bank and ditch which is apparently a feature only found in major sacred sites.

      Not far from here is a large burial mound called Gib Hill which may be connected but not sure about if they are and if so how. Gib Hill is only about 100 feet to south-west of the Arbor Low henge and is known as a barrow .

      Gib Hill, according to the historical experts is thought to be a Neolithic oval barrow with an Early Bronze Age round barrow on top of it. There were some excavations of the barrow by a Derbyshire archeologist, Thomas Bateman in the 19th century and during those excavations there were some human remains found and also a pottery vessel, flint and other stone tools which are thought could be grave relics. There have been no excavations on either site for over a hundred years so there could be all sorts of treasures hidden beneath to be found.

      On our visit it was an early summer's day and friends of mine were staying with us from Australia so despite the brisk wind and persistent rain we headed for the site with gritted teeth and wrapped up in coats. We put our voluntary donation in the pot and headed through the farm gates up quite a distance in the windy weather. I am sure it would not have seemed nearly so far had we not been battling the wind and rain. British summer weather cannot be counted on for warmth!

      When we arrived at the mound we had the most amazing view across the peak district and were able to walk all around the stones and up and down the mounds with no restrictions at all. Obviously you are expected to behave responsibly and not remove anything from the site but you are on trust. I think they can do this as the interest for many would be limited and so they wouldn't be getting hundreds of visitors per day.

      I would say this site would appeal to those with an interest in historical sites, those who enjoy finding somewhere unusual and like exploring places outside with great views. It would have limited appeal to young children but having said that they would enjoy running around the site and up and down the mound.

      I am not sure how well it would go down to take a picnic onto the site but there was nothing there to say you couldn't provided of course you take you rubbish away with you.

      This is a working farm and so you are walking through fields and animals have left their usual animal poos so again if you are walking there with children tell them to be aware of sheep poo and even cow pats which of course are more easily seen but far messier if you do walk in one by accident!

      Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same username.


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