Located in rural Cornwall, the Merry Maidens are a perfect stone circle made of 19 stones of local granite.
History of Merry Maidens
The Merry Maidens date from the Neolithic era (c.5500-3500 BC). Their current name comes from the local legend that they were 19 girls turned into stone for dancing on the Sabbath.
The stones are also known as the Dawn's Men, which comes from a corruption of Dans Maen, "the stone dance." (For a similar tale elsewhere in Cornwall, see The Hurlers.)
The stones were restored to their upright positions between 1862 and 1869.
What to See at Merry Maidens
The Merry Maidens consist of 19 stones of local granite, which form a perfect circle 78 feet (23.8m) in diameter. The stones are spaced about 12 feet apart from each other, with a 20-foot gap at the east end that is probably the entrance.
The stones average about 4 feet high and are arranged from shortest to tallest; the tallest stones are on the southwest side of the circle.
There are also two standing stones to the north of the circle, which are dubbed the Pipers, and one to the west called the Fiddler. Like the Maidens, these were named for the legend of the wicked Sabbath dancers.
The stone circle is easy to access. From a small pull-out parking lot along highway B3315, it is a short walk along a grassy path across a field to the stones.
Quick Facts on Merry Maidens
|Names:||Dawn's Men · Merry Maidens|
|Categories:||ruins; megalithic monuments; stone circles|
|Dates:||c. 5500-3500 BCE|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||50.065137° N, 5.588731° W|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Merry Maidens|
- Personal visit (July 23, 2007).
- Aubrey Burl, A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, rev. ed. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005), 34.
- Timothy Darvill, Paul Stamper and Jane Timby, England: An Oxford Archaeological Guide (Oxford University Press, 2002), 445.
Map of Merry Maidens, Cornwall
Below is a location map and aerial view of Merry Maidens. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.