Historic Site in Bakewell
Arbor Low, often referred to as the “Peak District Stonehenge,” is hailed as the finest henge monument in northern England. The site consists of a henge monument with an added stone circle. The outer bank of the henge forms a roughly circular shape, measuring approximately 259 x 246 feet in diameter.
Enclosed within the henge bank is a ditch that spans about 6 feet in depth and 30 feet in width. The weathered limestone stones, although not upright, are scattered in a rough circle facing outward. The original standing status of these stones remains uncertain, with theories suggesting that they may have been toppled by zealous Christians or intentionally placed in a horizontal position by the builders of the circle.
The circle comprises 46 large stones, some reaching up to 13 feet in length, accompanied by 13 smaller stones. Positioned at the center of the circle is a “cove” formed by smaller stones, serving as a focal point for any ceremonial activities intended for the site. Excavations conducted within the cove unveiled a skeleton, although it is believed to be a later addition and not originally associated with the stone circle and henge arrangement.
A round barrow from the Bronze Age was later integrated into the southern bank of Arbor Low’s henge, using soil excavated from the bank. During the excavation of the barrow in 1845, a central cist containing evidence of a cremation burial was discovered, along with pottery vessels and a bone pin.
When was Arbor Low Built?
Arbor Low was built during the Neolithic period, estimated to be around 2500 BC. The site remained in use throughout the Bronze Age, resulting in a complex landscape with features spanning thousands of years.
Why was Arbor Low Built?
The exact purpose of Arbor Low remains uncertain, but it is believed to have been just one component of a larger ceremonial landscape. This landscape likely included at least eight chambered tombs and numerous smaller burial cairns.
In close proximity to Arbor Low stands Gib Hill, a burial mound from the Bronze Age that may have once been connected to the Arbor Low site by an earthen bank. Gib Hill itself is situated atop an earlier Stone Age barrow. It is thought that Gib Hill may have been intentionally constructed to establish a visual connection with Arbor Low.
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Visiting Arbor Low
Open any reasonable time during daylight hours.
Access through private land, for which the owner issues £1 charge per person.