Ancient Monuments

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Large regular stone circle known as the 'Nine Maidens' and a round cairn 690m north-west of Killiow Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Madron, Cornwall

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Latitude: 50.1606 / 50°9'38"N

Longitude: -5.5937 / 5°35'37"W

OS Eastings: 143424.831727

OS Northings: 35130.648989

OS Grid: SW434351

Mapcode National: GBR DXK8.4L7

Mapcode Global: VH059.0757

Entry Name: Large regular stone circle known as the 'Nine Maidens' and a round cairn 690m north-west of Killiow Farm

Scheduled Date: 30 November 1926

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006738

English Heritage Legacy ID: CO 49

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Madron

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Gulval

Church of England Diocese: Truro


The monument includes a large regular stone circle and a round cairn, situated on a wide upland ridge with commanding views to surrounding upland ridges, including Carn Galva. The stone circle survives as a ring of eleven stones measuring 21.8m in diameter. Five of the stones are upright, three recumbent and three are leaning. The tallest upright stone is 1.98m high, although they generally range in size from 1.07m to 1.37m high. The spacing of the stones appears to be regular, suggesting that there were originally 22 or 23 stones.

Immediately SSE of the stone circle is a round cairn which survives as a circular stony mound measuring 10m in diameter and 1.3m high. The surrounding quarry ditch, from which the material for the construction of the cairn was derived, is preserved as a buried feature. Around the cairn and within the stone circle are at least four shallow pits with associated spoil heaps which may be the result of mineral prospecting which is recorded in this area from 1868.

The stone circle was first recorded by Borlase in the mid-18th century when his plan shows thirteen standing and three recumbent stones. By the time Cotton recorded it, in about 1825, compared to three stones had been removed, five had fallen and two were leaning. Halliwell in 1861 recorded only the eleven remaining stones which exist today depicting six upright, two badly leaning and the rest fallen. The cairn was excavated by WC Borlase in 1872 who found a previously disturbed cist with the coverstone removed. Finds included fragments of a Middle Bronze Age urn associated with wood and ashes. Labourers had reputedly dug into the cairn and uncovered some urns in the 1840's according to Blight. The cist is no longer visible. The most recent survey was made by Barnatt.

The stone circle is also known as Boskednan Stone Circle.

Other archaeological remains within the vicinity are scheduled separately.

Sources: HER:-
PastScape Monument No:-423718

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Stone circles are prehistoric monuments comprising one or more circles of upright or recumbent stones. The circle of stones may be surrounded by earthwork features such as enclosing banks and ditches. Single upright stones may be found within the circle or outside it and avenues of stones radiating out from the circle occur at some sites. Burial cairns may also be found close to and on occasion within the circle. Where excavated they have been found to date from the Late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (c.2400-1000 BC). It is clear that they were designed and laid out carefully, frequently exhibiting very regularly spaced stones, the heights of which also appear to have been of some importance. We do not fully understand the uses for which these monuments were originally constructed but it is clear that they had considerable ritual importance for the societies that used them. In many instances excavation has indicated that they provided a focus for burials and the rituals that accompanied interment of the dead. Some circles appear to have had a calendrical function, helping mark the passage of time and seasons, this being indicated by the careful alignment of stones to mark important solar or lunar events such as sunrise or sunset at midsummer or midwinter. At other sites the spacing of individual circles throughout the landscape has led to a suggestion that each one provided some form of tribal gathering point for a specific social group. Large regular stone circles comprise an arrangement of between one and three rings of from 20 to 30 upright stones. The diameters of these circles range between 20 and 30 metres. They are presently known only in upland contexts, the majority being located in Devon and Cornwall or Cumbria. Of the 250 or so stone circles identified in England only 28 are examples of this type. Despite partial early excavation and the removal of several stones, the large regular stone circle known as the 'Nine Maidens' and a round cairn 690m north west of Killiow Farm survive comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, function, ritual and funerary practices, longevity, territorial significance, social organisation and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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