The Merry 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 stone".

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.

Click on the thumbnails below in order to see pictures of the Merry Maidens.  Use your browser's back button to return to this page.

Grisel & the Merry MaidensThe opening at the eastern part of the circle is visible behind Grisel. Jeff & the Merry MaidensMerry Maidens from the west, again with the opening at the east visible behind Jeff.
Merry Maidens from the WestMerry Maidens from the west.
Merry MaidensMerry Maidens from roughly the SE Merry MaidensMerry Maidens from roughly the SE

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