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



.. the celebrated stone circle called the Dawns Men, the Dance Stones, or, popularly, the Merry Maidens. This is a very perfect circle of nineteen stones which average about three feet and a-half in height above the ground, the circle itself being nearly seventy feet in diameter.

There are various country traditions which account for the existence of these stones. Some say that they were maidens who were transformed into stones for dancing on the Lord's Day. Others assert that a man is buried under each stone. All, however, agree that the stones are placed there by supernatural agency, and that it is impossible to remove them.

An old man at Boleigh, who informed us that a farmer, having removed two or three of the stones on one occasion, was astonished to see them in their old places the next morning, was evidently displeased at the account being inconsiderately received with a smile of incredulity.

Another story respecting them is, that an attempt to drag them out of their places, although a vast horse or oxen power was engaged, utterly failed, and that the cattle employed in the task fell down, and shortly after died.


The Dawns Men were no doubt so called by the country people because the stones are placed in the order in which persons arranged themselves for an ancient dance, termed Trematheeves, which continued in vogue in Cornwall as late as the last century. Hence also probably originated the legend above mentioned; although it is to be observed that similar tales are current elsewhere to account for such-like circles of stones in Wales and other countries.
From Rambles in Western Cornwall by the Footsteps of the Giants by J O Halliwell-Phillipps (1861).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th August 2013ce
Edited 11th August 2013ce

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