Wellingtons Monument - copyright www.peakdistrictphotographs.co.uk
Nelsons column - copyright www.peakdistrictphotographs.co.uk
Arbor Low stone circle - copyright www.peakdistrictphotographs.co.uk

Monuments in the Peak District

...history, heritage & tradition

The Peak District is home to around 450 protected monuments and stone circles. Some are pre-historic, many tell a story, and most are mysterious. Centuries of history, heritage and tradition is documented in these intriguing man-made markers of the past.

Chatsworth is widely regarded as the Peak District’s gem, and its Hunting Tower is one of the region’s most famous landmarks.

The Tower stands proud at the top of the hill, some four hundred feet above Chatsworth House, on the edge of Stand Wood. Boasting stunning, panoramic views over Capability Brown's magnificent Park, the tower is visible from ground level as it peers over the top of the trees in the densely-wooded area behind the House.

The 16th century Hunting Tower, guarded by the pair of cannons which still stand there today, was used by the ladies to watch the hounds working when hunting in the park below. In modern times members of the Estate staff lived in the tower.

In 2003 it was decided, somewhat curiously it must be said, to let the Hunting Tower as a (completely unique) holiday home. The Tower now has a fitted kitchen including dishwasher, fridge/freezer, washing machine/dryer and microwave oven. The living room has a flat screen television, DVD player and stereo system.

Regrettably, cannonballs are not provided, but nevertheless we can hardly think of a better way to experience an overnight stay in and around Chatsworth.

Wellington's Monument is to be found on Baslow Edge, standing high above the village of Baslow, and is dedicated to the Duke of Wellington and his victory at the battle of Waterloo in 1815. It was erected in 1866 by a local chap called Dr Wrench, who felt compelled to bring some balance with the memorial dedicated to Admiral Nelson on nearby Birchen Edge.

Nelson’s Column– not to be confused with the Trafalgar Square memorial of the same name – is a gritstone column topped by a ball and in fact pre-dates its London namesake by several decades.

The construction of Crich Stand was completed in 1923 as a memorial to the men of the Sherwood Foresters who fell in World War I, and later became a commemoration to those who died in World War II. The hill on which Crich Stand is situated scales a height of 950 feet and the top of Crich Stand itself just touches 1,000 feet.

The views across the Derwent Valley towards Matlock are superb; it is said that on a clear day one can see into five counties and, without a telescope, make out Lincoln Cathedral in the far distance.

Stone circles are monuments comprising a number of stones fixed to the ground at close quarters, to form a sort of enclosed, circular area. Stone circles were built in Derbyshire and the Peak District during the late Neolithic and early Bronze Ages, approximately between 3,000-1,500BC. The reason for their existence is unclear, though they are often thought to have religious and/or spiritual connotations. There are around 20 stone circles surviving in Derbyshire and the Peak District.

Arbor Low is probably the best known stone circle in Derbyshire and the only circle in Derbyshire built from limestone, the others all being millstone grit. It consists of around 30 collapsed blocks, originally thought to have stood in an egg-shaped inner ring of 37 metres by 41 metres. A bank and ditch surround the stones.

Arbor Low is fairly easy to reach by turning off the A515 Ashbourne to Buxton road at Parsley Hay towards Youlgrave. A short distance on the right is a short drive to a farm with a lay by for parking and access to the circle.

Read this fascinating blog for much more information on Arbor Low.

Minning Low is the largest and most prominently sited barrow in the Peak District, 2km to the west of Aldwark, Derbyshire. Surrounded at its peak by an earl's coronet of beech trees 500m to the east of The High Peak Trail between the villages of Parwich and Longcliffe, Minninglow Hill is a landmark for miles around at 1214 ft (370m) above sea level ... continue here for AntPDC's Blog

Found on Stanton moor near Stanton in Peak, the Nine Ladies form a circle 10m in diameter. Each stone is less than 1m in height and some are slightly leaning. An outlying stone - a block of Millstone grit 58 cm high and called the King Stone, stands around 45 metres from the centre of the circle. Legend has it that one Sunday, nine ladies, naturally, and a fiddler came up to the moor to dance, and for this act of sacrilege (dancing on the Sabbath), they were all turned to stone.

The stone circle stands in a large clearing in woodland which can be reached via a footpath just outside Stanton Lees.

Also found on Stanton Moor is Earl Grey Tower. This fairly modest memorial was constructed by William Pole Thornhill in 1832 to commemorate to Earl Grey's electoral reform act of the same year. 

Sean Cummins

Last Updated: 15 Jun 2015