The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Nine Stones



Visited 4th February 2017

There's surely nothing better than a pasty, a pint, and the prospect of seeing a hitherto unvisited stone circle. So as we finish up our lunch in the Tors Inn in Belstone, and I peruse the O.S. map, I couldn't feel more content.

Leaving the car at the pub we head off up the road past the old chapel/telegraph station (honestly!) towards the moor. It's been a while since I've tried to track down a new site with a map, and I'm hoping my navigational skills are not totally rusty, particularly if I'm looking for somewhere on a trackless moor, but at least the Nine Stones looks reassuringly close to the village.

Soon we reach the gate which opens on to the moor, there's space to park here if you want, but it's only a couple of minutes closer than where we left the car. Now checking the map I can see that we just need to head south-west to find the circle. It's been so long since I've been out in the field that I couldn't find my compass before setting off, but never fear, with modern technology to the rescue I turn to the compass function on my phone, only to discover that I first need to 'calibrate' it, which of course, requires a phone signal. Drifting between half a bar and emergency calls only, I manoeuvre the phone around as if attempting to signal by semaphore or perhaps deter a particularly persistent wasp, until just enough connection is made that the compass will now work.

Striking off across the moor we pass several walkers coming the other way, and quite a distinct and well-trodden path to follow. It's a crisp cold day, but blue skies soar above us, and the horizon is given a gauzy, soft focus look by a lingering vague mist in the distance. It's not long though before the stones of the kerb circle make themselves visible to our left, and I realise I probably didn't need the map and compass after all, so close are they to the path.

The first thing I'm struck by is the setting. The granite tops of Belstone and Higher Tors commanding the view as they overlook the circle, the landscape seeming very ancient indeed as you stand here amongst the stones.

Although called Nine Stones there are at least twelve by my count, and probably at one time even more. Nine I'm sure relates more to the sacred trinity of the number three in Celtic myth, as I'm sure does the etymology of the name Belstone itself, after the Celtic god of fire and the sun. Inside the circle there is an obvious depression in the centre, probably the remains of a cist, but it's really the setting and sense of place that affect me here.

Dramatic and windswept it feels remote, but is actually only about a ten minute walk from the village, hidden atop the moor, with the only sign of life a remote farmhouse to the west, a small stream and waterfall glistening as it cuts across the deeper green of the fields below us, and then of course the huge tors, like the fossilised remains of ancient leviathans as they dominate the moor.

Sadly I note that I must have missed the stones capering's, as it's 1pm now and everything is still, but you can't be too disappointed. It's a perfect place on a perfect day, the sky remains, dare I say it, a hazy shade of winter, but Bel must be pleased someone is taking an interest in his stones, as standing in the circle, the gentle warmth of the sun reminded me that the first stirrings of spring are at hand, and as life returns to the land, so I too feel alive here, such is the power still of 'old stones'.
Ravenfeather Posted by Ravenfeather
8th February 2017ce

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