Nine Maidens Stone Circle

Before restoration of the stones
©Cornwall County Council

Region: South West

Funding Body: Cornwall County Council; DEFRA; Nine Maidens Down Commoners

Year of Intervention: 2004

Summary: The Nine Maidens Stone Circle have suffered from severe erosion in the past, however work to restore and repair this stone circle was undertaken in June 2004 and has had an amazing effect in restoring the overall appearance of the monument.


The Nine Maidens Stone Circle stands on a lonely area of downland between Ding Dong Mine and the craggy tor of Carn Galver, at SW 4342 3512, on the northern fringe of Madron parish.  Eleven stones of an original twenty two or twenty three survive; of the surviving stones, six stand upright, two are leaning heavily, and three have completely fallen.  


The circle is located in an area of fairly flat, peaty heathland which, although it is relatively remote, is well used by walkers, horse riders and regrettably, also by trail bikes.  As a result, the circle has been suffering severe erosion which has been most conspicuous in winter when large puddles and deep mud cover much of the ground.  The problem had been made worse by the development of thick gorse over parts of the circle, which forced visitors onto a few main paths, as well as obscuring views of the stones.


Work to restore and repair this stone circle was undertaken in June 2004 in a project organised jointly by Cornwall County Council’s Historic Environment Service and the Department of Food and Rural Affairs, in association with the Nine Maidens Down Commoners.

In summary, the restoration included scrub clearance to open up the circle, drainage to make access easier and footpath repair.  As a final enhancement, the three long-fallen stones were set up again, after a preliminary excavation to locate their original sockets. 


The excavation was successful in locating the original sockets of the stones, which were surprisingly shallow, but produced no other information relating to the construction, use, or date of the site.

At the time of writing, it is too early to know whether either the drainage or footpath work has been successful.  The scrub clearance, however, was unexpectedly impressive, in opening up the circle, and in suddenly allowing easy access in and around the stones:  something that has not been possible for many years.  But the final part of the project was the most stunning of all.  Setting up the three fallen stones has had an amazing effect in restoring the overall appearance of the monument and in enhancing its impact within the landscape.  Particularly impressive is the view north towards the Carn Galva, which is now framed and brought into focus by the two tallest stones in the circle.

Keywords: Preservation and Maintenance, Repair, Reconstruction & Restoration

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