Stones at Arbor Low
Arbor Low is the finest Stone Age 'henge' monument in the North of England, a site of unique archaeological and cultural interest. The site is situated on a high point 375 metres above sea level and, though it this not an impressive hill, the view on a fine day is stunning. It can be a bleak place in bad weather and a gorgeous spot on a fine spring morning, so the monument and its situation can hardly fail to impress the visitor.
No-one knows why this henge or its sister henge at Dove Holes (the Bull Ring) were constructed or what they were used for, but they must have been important focal points for the people of the time. The henge was constructed about 2500 BC and consists of a circular bank, 76 metres in diameter and 2 metres high, with inside it a ditch about 1.5 metres deep enclosing a circular central 'sanctuary' area. There are entrances at the north-west and south-east of the bank.
View of Arbor Low
The central area contains 46 large and 13 smaller stones, arranged in a circle with a group in the centre. The surprise is that all the stones are lying flat and no-one now knows for certain whether this was how they were originally or whether they were once upright and have been toppled. One theory is that early Christians laid them flat in order to 'de-sanctify' the site, but no archaeological evidence exists to support this. In any event, the stones may well have been added after the construction of the original henge, which probably had wooden posts initially.
Near the south-east entrance a Bronze Age tumulus has been added, just within the bank - this is a much later feature and was found to contain several burials when excavated by Thomas Bateman in 1845.
Gib Hill Tumulus
Two hundred metres away to the south-west lies Gib Hill, a Bronze Age burial mound which may have once been connected with Arbor Low by an earth bank. This is an impressively large tumulus, 5 metres high and 10 metres in diameter, and was also excavated by Bateman who found a large burial cist here in 1848.
Though the current tumulus at Gib Hill is much later than Arbor Low, it was built on top of a Stone Age long barrow which was contemporary with or perhaps older than the henge.
The monument is in the care of English Heritage and access is via the farm below, where there is a small car park and a tin in which you are requested to place your admission fee.
Further reading: The Peak National Park published an excellent guide to the monument: ISBN 0-907543-74-X - it is now out of print, but second-hand copies can be found.