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HER Number:MDV6865
Name:The Nine Stones, Belstone Moor

Summary

Also known as 'The Nine Maidens', or 'The Seventeen Brothers.' Ring cairn on Belstone Moor, surviving as a ring of at least 16 upright stones, standing up to 0.7 metres high, surrounding a slightly raised 7 metre diameter internal area. A mound of material lying to the west of the cairn represents spoil thrown up during partial early excavation. The pit formed by this work survives as a slight hollow within the centre of the cairn.

Location

Grid Reference:SX 612 928
Map Sheet:SX69SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishBelstone
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishBELSTONE

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX 69 SW 12
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX69SW/1
  • Old SAM County Ref: 783
  • Old SAM Ref: 28668
  • Pastscape: 444161

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • RING CAIRN (Constructed, Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 701 BC (Between))

Full description

Prowse, A. B., 1890, Notes on the Neighbourhood of Taw Marsh, North Dartmoor, 186 (Article in Serial). SDV239781.

(1889) The remains of a ring of stones, as sometimes placed around the base of a tumulus as is the larger one on top of Cosdon. 17 stones remaining but some are very small. Only 8 or 9 are clearly visible.


Worth, R. H., 1902, 21st Report of the Barrow Committee, 135 (Article in Serial). SDV20971.


Crossing, W., 1912 (1965), Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor, 63, 209, 222 (Monograph). SDV320981.

The Nine Stones, or Nine Maidens stone circle actually comprised 17 stones and therefore is also known as the Seventeen Brothers. Small circle, consisting of small stones that probably surrounded a kistvaen, although no trace remains to be seen now. More than one story exists about these stones; one of which is that they were originally maidens who were turned to stone for the sin of dancing on the hill on Sundays. The story states that they are compelled to dance every day at noon. Crossing states that they can be seen dancing "when the conditions are favourable".


Worth, R. H., 1923, 42nd Report of the Barrow Committee, 49-50 (Article in Serial). SDV272438.

The Nine Stones or Nine Maidens are the remains of a retaining circle of a barrow, which has been destroyed, at Belstone. The dimeter of the circle to the outside face of the stones is 25 feet and 2 inches (7.67 metres). There are 16 standing stones and one fallen stone all measure between 28-29 inches (0.71-0.74 metres) high, with the exception of two small stones which are set pointing towards the centre of the circle.


Grinsell, L. V., 1953, The Ancient Burial-Mounds of England, 117 (Monograph). SDV223394.


Ancient Monuments, 1970, Ancient Monuments details, 19/3/1970 (Report - Survey). SDV223381.

Circle of 16 stones still in situ. Possibly the revetment to a small barrow. Very irregular inside the circle. One stone in the centre is possibly part of a cist.


Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1974, SX69SW12, 23/7/1974 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV223395.

The ‘Nine Stones’ cairn has 12 upright stones (0.4 to 0.8 metres high), three small stones (0.2 metres high) and two possible stumps.
A loose granite boulder in the centre of the circle may cover a cist, and there are vestiges of a mound around it. Well preserved.


Grinsell, L. V., 1978, Dartmoor Barrows, 133, Belstone 1 (Article in Serial). SDV273224.

(22/5/1976) 17 stones of retaining circle of cairn, central stone, doubtfully of cist. Diameter 7.6 metres, height 0.7 metres (tallest stone), 0.3 metres (mound). Siting - hill slope.


Griffith, F. M., 1982, Site details (Report - Survey). SDV223385.

(25/7/1982) This certainly seems to be the remains of a barrow: there is a considerable rise in ground level within the ring and to the south outside, to a distance of about 1 metre outside the ring. Spoilheaps from robbery visible within (at the cist?) and without.


Hemery, E., 1983, High Dartmoor, 856-7 (Monograph). SDV249702.

Nine Maidens retaining circle contains at least 12 stones still standing and evidence of a central hollow (vanished kisvaen?). Crossing first refers to this as "a small circle", but later adds "there are 17 stones and the circle is sometimes known as 'The Seventeen Brothers'. The circle, which is not of a great size, probably surrounded a kistvaen, though no vestiges of such are now visible". The interior diameter measures 23 feet (7 metres) and is larger than many of the retaining circle on Dartmoor.
Hemery also refers to the possible origins of the name 'Nine Maidens' and cites Rowe mentioning the circle in his 'Perambulation'.


Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1985, Aerial Photograph Project (Interpretation). SDV319854.

Not visible on the aerial photographs used in project.


Greeves, T. A. P., 1985, Visit to the Nine Stones / Nine Maidens circle (Worksheet). SDV223399.

Visited 12/6/1985 and 8/7/1985 A stone (0.7 by 0.3 by 0.18 metres) had been set up in the middle of the circle, in a hole 0.25 metres deep with four small stones packed around its base. It did not appear to come from the surrounding cairn circle or dug out of the cairn. Stone removed and shallow hole backfilled on 8/7/1985.


Turner, J. R., 1990, Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor, 55, 81, fig 24 / G23 (Article in Serial). SDV229817.

Stone circle, 7 metres diameter, 16 stones, one fallen. Four stones are set at 90 degrees to the circumference.


Butler, J., 1991, Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North, 208, Map 40.9 (13) (Monograph). SDV219155.

The Nine Stones cairn circle consists of 16 stones, though one has been uprooted outside the circle, another lies buried and two more on the south side are leaning almost flat with just their tops showing. The curious arrangement of close-set slabs on the north-west side and the rest being irregularly spaced around the circumference seems to have been the original design. The full complement of stones are probably present as there is only a single socket hole adjacent to the fallen slab and it seems unlikely that alternate stones would have been robbed. Apart from the fallen slab (1.75 metres long, which must have stood higher), the erect stones are of comparable size, 0.5 – 0.8 metres tall, the two small slabs at right-angles to the ring merely helping to fill the gaps between the taller stones.
The interior has been dug into and there is a spoil heap outside the western edge of the circle, the size of which suggests the original mound would have reached as high as the stones. Slabs of an unknown size show just above the uneven interior which could possibly be the sides of a cist.


Gerrard, S., 1992-2002, Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset., 17/6/1997, MPP 144107 (Report - Survey). SDV277946.

17/6/1997 Ring cairn. Some disturbance since last Field Monument Warden visit. In centre is a stone hearth. On west side a small pit has been excavated and six substantial stones brought in from elsewhere.
Diameter 7 metres, height 0.7 metres. Central pit 2.5 metres by 1.3 metres by 0.3 metres. No cist stone visible in centre.
Stone splitting pits survive in vicinity. Wedge and groove and tar and feather types both represented. There is also at least one cart ramp.


Ordnance Survey, 2017, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV359962.

'Nine Stones (Cairn Circle)' is depicted on the modern mapping. Map object based on this source.


Historic England, 2017, National Heritage List for England, 1017871 (National Heritage List for England). SDV359963.

Despite partial robbing, the Nine Stones ring cairn on Belstone Common survives comparatively well and contains archaeological information relating to the monument and the environment in which it was constructed. This cairn is one of the more striking examples on Dartmoor.
Details
The monument includes a ring cairn situated on a west facing slope overlooking the valley of the East Okement River. The cairn survives as a ring of at least 16 upright stones, standing up to 0.7m high, surrounding a slightly raised 7m diameter internal area. A mound of material lying to the west of the cairn represents spoil thrown up during partial early excavation. The pit formed by this work survives as a slight hollow within the centre of the cairn.

Sources / Further Reading

  • Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1902. 21st Report of the Barrow Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 34. A5 Hardback. 135.
  • Monograph: Butler, J.. 1991. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities: Volume Two - The North. Two. Paperback Volume. 208, Map 40.9 (13).
  • Report - Survey: Ancient Monuments. 1970. Ancient Monuments details. Unknown. 19/3/1970.
  • Report - Survey: Griffith, F. M.. 1982. Site details. Devon County Council. Unknown.
  • Monograph: Grinsell, L. V.. 1953. The Ancient Burial-Mounds of England. The Ancient Burial-Mounds of England. Unknown. 117.
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1974. SX69SW12. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index. 23/7/1974.
  • Worksheet: Greeves, T. A. P.. 1985. Visit to the Nine Stones / Nine Maidens circle. Worksheet. Digital.
  • Article in Serial: Turner, J. R.. 1990. Ring Cairns, Stone Circles and Related Monuments on Dartmoor. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 48. Paperback Volume. 55, 81, fig 24 / G23.
  • Article in Serial: Prowse, A. B.. 1890. Notes on the Neighbourhood of Taw Marsh, North Dartmoor. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 22. Unknown. 186.
  • Monograph: Hemery, E.. 1983. High Dartmoor. High Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 856-7.
  • Article in Serial: Worth, R. H.. 1923. 42nd Report of the Barrow Committee. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 55. Unknown. 49-50.
  • Article in Serial: Grinsell, L. V.. 1978. Dartmoor Barrows. Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society. 36. A5 Paperback. 133, Belstone 1.
  • Report - Survey: Gerrard, S.. 1992-2002. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Monument Protection Programme. Archaeological Item Dataset.. Mixed Archive Material + Digital. 17/6/1997, MPP 144107.
  • Interpretation: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1985. Aerial Photograph Project. Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England Aerial Photograph P. Cartographic.
  • Monograph: Crossing, W.. 1912 (1965). Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor. Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 63, 209, 222.
  • Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2017. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
  • National Heritage List for England: Historic England. 2017. National Heritage List for England. Historic Houses Register. Digital. 1017871.

Associated Monuments

MDV6867Related to: Ring cairn 230 metres south-east of Cullever Steps (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded


Date Last Edited:Mar 27 2017 11:56AM