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Arbor Low

Arbor Low
grassy area with a raised circular area with stones lying in a roughly circular pattern
Location near Middleton-by-Youlgreave and Bakewell[1]
Region Derbyshire, England
Type Henge monument
Official name Arbor Low henge, large irregular stone circle, linear bank and bowl barrow
Designated 18 August 1882[2]
Reference no. 1011087

Arbor Low is a Neolithic henge monument in the Peak District, Derbyshire, England.[3] Arbor Low is in the White Peak area of the Peak District: the White Peak is a Carboniferous Limestone plateau lying between approximately 200 and 400 metres (660 and 1,310 ft) OD. The site is private property, accessible through the courtesy of the owner, and is managed by the Peak District National Park Authority.[3] As of May 2012, an entrance fee of £1 per adult is requested by the landowner. Children can enter free of charge.


  • Description 1
  • Human remains 2
  • Surrounding landscape 3
  • Construction and usage 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


Arbor Low consists of about 50 large limestone blocks, quarried from a local site, which form an egg-shaped circle, with monoliths at the entrances, and possibly a portal stone at the south entrance. There is also a large pit at the north entrance, which possibly contained a stone. Some of the stones are broken; some of these fragments may originally have been joined together, such that there were originally between 41 and 43 stones. The stones range from 1.6 to 2.1 metres (5 ft 3 in to 6 ft 11 in) tall, with the monoliths being between 2.6 and 2.9 metres (8 ft 6 in and 9 ft 6 in).[1]

In the centre lie seven smaller blocks, which form a cove.[1]

One stone is partially upright; the rest are all lying down.[1] Although it is frequently stated that the stones have never stood upright, it is possible that they had originally been set upright in shallow stone holes.[4]

The stones are surrounded by an oval earthen bank, approximately 90 by 85 metres (295 by 279 ft) at the outside edges and 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) high, with an interior ditch being about 2 m deep and between 7 and 10 metres (23 and 33 ft) wide. There are two causeway entrances breaching both the bank and ditch; the north-west one is 9 metres (30 ft) wide, and the south-south-east one is 6 metres (20 ft) wide. Within the bank lies an inner platform 52 by 40 metres (171 by 131 ft) in area.[1]

Few henge monuments in the British Isles are as well preserved. Arbor Low was one of the first ancient monuments to be given statutory protection, in the 1880s. Small monoliths engraved VR and GR (for Victoria Regina and Georgius Rex) still stand around the henge, demarcating the protected area.

Human remains

Human skeletal remains were discovered close to the central cove within the circle[1] during excavations between 1901 and 1902.[4]

Surrounding landscape

A large Bronze Age round cairn or barrow was built later, to the east of the henge, using material taken from the earth bank. It was excavated in 1845 and found to contain a cremation burial and various grave goods which are now in Sheffield City Museum.[5]

Arbor Low is part of a larger complex, and is linked by an earth ridge to the earlier Neolithic oval barrow of Gib Hill 320m away.[6]

Construction and usage

The bank and ditch of the henge, as well as its two entrances, were likely established in the Late Neolithic period, with the stones added later, some time before 2000 BC. The site seems to have been in use until into the Bronze Age, which was when the outer bank was reconstructed so that the round barrow could be erected. Both the earthworks and the stoneworks are likely later than the nearby Gib Hill.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "The Megalithic Portal and Megalithic Map: Arbor Low 1 Stone Circle". Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  2. ^  
  3. ^ a b "Arbor Low Stone Circle and Gibb Hill Barrow".  
  4. ^ a b Arbor Low, Pastscape, 24 September 2012
  5. ^ website
  6. ^ History and Research: Arbor Low Henge and Stone Circle and Gib Hill Barrow, English Heritage, retrieved 27 September 2012

Further reading

  • Arbor Low: A Guide to the Monuments. Peak Park Joint Planning Bd. May 1996.  
  • Addy, S.O. (1911). The ‘Harbour’ and Barrows at Arbour-Lows. Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 33, 39–58.
  • Arnold-Bemrose, H.H. (1904). Geological notes on Arbor Low. Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 26, 78–79.
  • Barnatt, J (1990). The henges, stone circles and ringcairns of the Peak District. Sheffield Archaeological Monographs, Department of Archaeology and Prehistory, University of Sheffield.
  • Bateman, T. (1848). Vestiges of Antiquity. John Russell Smith, London.
  • Cox, Rev. J.C. (1884). Some notes on Arbor Low. Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 6, 97–107.
  • Gray, H. St George. (1903). On the excavation at Arbor Low 1901–2. Archaeologia, 38.
  • Heathcote, J.P. (1956). Arbor Low. Today, the Days of Old, and the Years of Ancient Times. 5th Ed.
  • Matthews, T.A. (1907). Some notes on Arbor Low and other lows in the High Peak. Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 29, 103–112.
  • Matthews, T.A. (1911). Some further notes on the lows in the High Peak. Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 33, 87–94.
  • Pegge, S. (1793). A Disquisition on the Lows or Barrows in the Peak of Derbyshire. Archaeologia, VIII, 131–148.
  • Radley, J. (1968). The origin of Arbor Low henge monument. Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 88, 100–103.

External links

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