Evidence stacks up that Gardom’s Edge monolith is astronomically aligned
Researchers at the Nottingham Trent University have gathered new evidence that a 4000-year-old monolith was aligned to be an astronomical marker. The 2.2 metre high monument, located in the Peak District National Park, has a striking, right-angled triangular shape that slants up towards geographic south... continues...
The main reason for coming here is the rock art panel, so memorably filled with pink flowers by Postman a few years ago. But first, I’m hoping to find the standing stone, something of a rarity in this area. We walk through the woods, trying to stay away from the treeless edge, as I know the stone won’t be found there. It turns out to be further south than I’d realised, another site that the Ordnance Survey map doesn’t show. Eventually it makes itself known, as we get towards the higher part of the wood. The light has gone strange now, the low sun filtered around the edges of a bank of cloud giving an ethereal glow to the woods and the stone.
The stone is a good one, a little taller than I imagined and different from each angle and direction. Like many of the best standing stones, it gives off a feeling of sentience. Even though I know this is just projection on my part, it’s hard to shake once felt. There’s no malignance, or beneficence, just a presence. I often find woodland sites hard to leave, and the stone definitely exerts a pull. As we leave I’m compelled to look back, Orpheus to Eurydice.
Last time I was here was in the gloaming of a summer evening after a frustrating couple of hours searching for the nearby rock art, and when the stone hove into view after my fruitless search it was an ample consolation prize. Today things are a bit more relaxed though. After a nice lunch at the nearby Robin Hood Inn (lovely veggie quiche) a walk up Gardoms edge past the Three Men cairns, brought us to the woodland where lurks the stone.
Easily hidden amongst the trees, we nevertheless managed to find the stone with a little searching. It’s an interesting menhir, charismatic and bent over like a stooped old hag as you approach through the birch trees, whilst deep curved erosion of its other face gives it a raddled aspect.
Long afternoon shadows only add to the atmosphere, but the closely surrounding trees make it difficult to discern the orientation from the penumbra of the stone, so whether it was selected to act a gnomon for a sundial, or merely because it had a distinctive shape is something for conjecture.
It’s a fine stone whatever it may have been used for, and certainly worth a visit amongst the fine walks and rich archaeological heritage of Gardoms Edge.
[visited 2/10/11] This is an oddity, standing alone outside the neolithic enclosure, nowadays located in a small clearing in the woods. I spent a while here studying this gorgeous stone, enjoying the lovely hot October day.
Its lean is interesting given the theories about it being a crude sundial, certainly it seems deliberate. Though excavation would be needed to be sure. If true it gives a new perspective to other leaning stones in the UK.
Access is fairly easy after a mile or so along footpath to get to the top of the edge. In summer the way is hampered in the wood by all the bracken.
Standing over six feet tall, it is nevertheless still not easy to spot amongst the birch trees. But whether you approach from the sheer drops on the edge or from the rock art replica, a small amount of perseverence rewards with a most interesting stone.
When I first saw this stone some years ago I found it hard to accept it as an honest to goodness standing stone. It has the look of an oddly pointy outcrop, the top of the stone is very eroded into a gnarled shape, perhaps aiding in some directional way, or as Stubob news titbit suggests as a seasonal marker.
In any case its in good surroundings, it is very photogenic, and with all the other stuff hereabouts, I'd say essentiual viewing in the Peak district.