COLUMN: Magic and mystery of woodland stone circle

Tucked just inside a quiet enclave of woodland in Birchover, the small but endlessly fascinating Doll Tor is the subject of this month's exploration of Derbyshire stone circles.

There is a real myth and magic feeling to these six stones, with pagan offerings regularly adorning the trees here.

Adding to atmosphere at Doll Tor, the visitor usually finds themselves alone and surrounded by silence, as if entering a quiet place of reverance.

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It is indeed the site of several cremations and urns containing remains were found on the site during the first excavations in the 19th Century, some of which can now be seen in the Sheffield City Museum.

The enchanting feel that surrounds it now is amplified by the branches which have grown up around the circle giving it an enclosed ethereal feel. However, when it was originally constructed some time between 1500 BC and 2000BC it would have stood in open ground.

But that’s not the only change Doll Tor has undergone during its history. It has been excavated twice - in 1852 and again during the 1930s when it wasnoted that there had been previous malicious damage to the stones.

There was again controversy in 1993 when unknown persons attempted to re-erect some of the stones as well as fetching others to replace missing ones.

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The following year a disgruntled English Heritage and Peak National Park authority returned the site to what is said to be its original Bronze Age condition.

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Standing within the circle today itstill has much of the mystique it would have engendered all those thousands of years ago. It’s the second smallest circle in Derbyshire but in terms of intrigue it is in my opinion among the most important.It is protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act just as many parts of the surrounding Stanton Moor are.

However, it’s a contrast to Nine Ladies, only a short walk away, which attracts many more visitors because of its location and the modern legends which have built-up around it.

Next month: Faerie pipes and strange disappearances at Nine Stones Close.