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Arbor Low Stone Circle
Arbor Low is one of the most important prehistoric sites in Derbyshire. Surrounded by unspoiled countryside with fantastic views over classic Derbyshire scenery, it is not hard to image that one is thousands of miles away from the hubbub of modern life.
The site is similar in some ways to Stonehenge and Avebury in Wiltshire, and is easily as important and unique, it is probably for this reason that it has sometimes been referred to as the 'Stonehenge of the Peak District'.
The site consists of a high circular bank, enclosing a partially silted ditch, which in turn encloses a flat plateau. Within this flattened area is a recumbent stone circle of white weathered limestone blocks, resembling the fallen corroded teeth of an ancient titan. In the centre of the circle is a group of four stones, which may be the remains of a cove. This unique arrangement has led some people to describe the circle as resembling a clock face, especially when seen from above. It is not known whether the stones were ever in an upright position, and archaeological evidence has been inconclusive (no socket holes have ever been discovered).
There are two gaps within the outer bank, one in the Northwest, and one in the Southeast, which may have served as entrances and exits; perhaps as part of a ceremonial approach and departure of the site. There is also an earthwork leading from the site near the Southeast entrance, the purpose of which is unknown.
Arbor Low dates to the Neolithic / Early Bronze Age period, and the surrounding landscape is littered with barrows from the Late Bronze Age, constructed around a thousand years after the henge was completed. One of these barrows was incorporated into the henge bank, and the largest barrow known as Gib Hill, is only a short walk away towards the South.
The site was excavated from 1901 - 1902 when a human burial was discovered close to the stones that are thought to form a cove, but there were no other major discoveries. There were earlier excavations at the site; in 1845 Thomas Bateman excavated the tumulus attached to the bank, and three years later he led an excavation at Gib Hill.
Nearby Gib Hill is worth mentioning as a site in itself, and takes its name from its use as a hanging hill for a local murderer. The mound is one of the most impressive late Bronze Age barrows in the vicinity, standing at around 16 feet in height even after early destructive excavation. These excavations revealed a stone cist, which contained a small clay urn and burned human bones.
On a more mystical theme the site is said to have a plethora of ley lines running through it, but the landscape of the surrounding area is very dense in archaeological sites, which means many alignments are likely to be pure chance.
The circle is in a field off a farm track about five miles South West of Bakewell. The farmer who owns right of way to the stone circle may charge a small access fee.