The Nine Ladies is one of several ancient stone circles in the Peak District National Park. Located on Stanton Moor high above the Derbyshire town of Matlock it isn't the easiest place to find and don't expect to see any tourist signs pointing the way, but it is marked on the Ordnance Survey map. Once you find the footpath that leads to the stones you'll also have a bit of a battle to find somewhere to park as there's no dedicated car park and the grass verge is large enough only to hold about 4 cars. I visited these standing stones on a Sunday afternoon in early April this year and I confess to being more than a little stressed by the time I'd reached my destination and found somewhere to park.
The footpath from the road is of reasonable quality and it's only a short walk to reach the stones, although they aren't visible from the road as they are hidden within a clearing in the woods. Despite there being no road signs to the Nine Ladies once you have reached here there is the odd information board at the side of the footpath. These provide a useful insight into the area in days gone by and the board closest to the stones provides a pictorial illustration of what the area would have looked like many years ago.
When you reach the stones please don't expect to find something that resembles Stonehenge, because if you do I'm afraid that you will be disappointed. Unlike the tall upright stones of Stonehenge these are only about a metre high and much more rounded in shape like boulders. They are however strategically laid out in a fairly perfect circle with a hollow in the middle, so there was enough there for me to make me curious.
Like most of these stone circles there are many myths and legends that surround them. Nobody seems certain of their original purpose but they were certainly a place of Pagan rituals. According to local folklore the stones represent nine local witches that were turned to stone for their sins. In fact although there are nine upright stones within the circle there is also a tenth stone, which is laid flat. This stone was only discovered in 1976 during a summer of drought when the dusty soil blew away and exposed a tiny part of it. It was later excavated by students from a local university. In addition to these ten stones there is a further stone called the "King Stone". This stone is located 40 metres away from the main circle. The earliest references to the stone as the "nine ladies" dates back about four centuries, which would suggest that the tenth stone unearthed in the 1970's had been covered for quite a long time.
To be honest there isn't a great deal to been seen here but I'd recommend a visit if you are in the area. If you are interested in stone circles then you'll appreciate a visit here but like so many of these sites it leaves quite a lot to the imagination.