Maidens is the best known and preserved circle in
Cornwall. Dating from
the Late Stone Age to Mid-Bronze Age period
(2,500-1,500 BCE) and restored in the 1860s, this 23.8m (78-foot) perfect circle is Cornwall's pride and joy. Each of the nineteen
gray granite stones is about 1.2m (4 feet) high, and evenly spaced at about 3.7m (12-foot) intervals.
The tallest stones are to the SW and the shorter
to the NE - probably a mimicking of the waxing
and waning phases of the moon, the sun, and of
life itself. There is a larger gap 6.2 (20 feet) located at the east, which may indicate an astronomically-related entrance to the
circle. It is interesting to note that almost
all of the large open stone circles of the
British Isles have such a "missing
The circle is also known as The Dawn's Men, a
corruption of "Dans Maen"
meaning "stone dance" in Cornish.
According to legend, nineteen maidens dancing on a Sunday were transformed into stones. The pipers that had played for them were petrified too: the two standing stones called the
Pipers are in a field
about 0.4km to the NE of the circle. This legend was probably initiated by the early Christian Church to
frighten their pagan "flock" into
regular attendance of sanctioned Christian
worship in the local parish church.