Arbor Low & Gib Hill.

Arbor Low and Gib Hill can be found by following the A515 Buxton to Ashbourne road in the county of Derbyshire, about half way along this road you will see a brown sign post for Arbor Low. If you follow the brown sign posts it will lead you to a lane leading up to a farmhouse, if you follow the lane for a short distance it will lead you to a small parking area where you can leave your car. Carry on up to the farmhouse on foot where there is an honesty box and leave a pound in it as the stone circle lies on the farmers land. Then follow the footpath and it will lead you to Arbor low on the top of the hill overlooking the farmouse.

The stones at one time would have been standing upright, however these days they can hardly be described as standing stones, and if they could be viewed from the air they would resemble the numerals on a clock face.

In the past this ridge would have been important and it would have been used to hold rituals sometime between the Neolithic and early Bronze age periods which would have been between 6000 and 3000 years ago. It is believed that the first early farmers used Arbor Low and also the burial mound known as Gib Hill which can be found around 200 yards away for their ceremonies.

It is believed that Arbor Low Henge would have been an important ceremonial centre for communities living to the North and North West. It consists of a massive bank and ditch with two opposing entrances. Within the bank stood up to 43 stones, forming a circle around a central setting of stones known as the “Cove”. All are now fallen, probably pushed over in medieval times by people fearful of the stones pagan associations.

In the Bronze age a burial mound was built on top of the henge bank, this can be found on the opposite side of the henge furthest away from the farmhouse. This mound was excavated in 1901 by labourers and a local archeologist. When it was excavated it was found to contain cremated and interred human bones, pottery, flints and an antler.

The burial mound on the edge of the henge can be see in this photo (not to be confused with nearby Gib Hill).

Arbor Low was one of the first archaeological sites to be preserved under the Ancient Monuments Protection Act of 1882. Stone markers were set around the edges of the henge and Gib Hill, carved with the initials VR and GR. These refer to Queen Victoria and King George V, the R meaning Regina and Rex.

It is said that the stone circle is haunted by a Boggart and if a person remains in the circle overnight it will incite the Boggart, also it is said that a number of Ley-lines run through the site and form alignments, however as there are many burial mounds in the area and this could just be pure coincidence.

When you approach Gib Hill which is close to Arbor Low you will notice that there are two mounds, one on top of the other. The first is a Long Barrow, dating from the earlier part of the Neolithic era, several centuries before Arbor Low henge was constructed. Thomas Bateman who excavated the mound in 1848 found cremated bodies and oxen bones.

A round barrow was built on top of the first tomb in the early Bronze Age, up to 2000 years later. Buried inside this mound was a stone burial chamber containing a human cremation. Mourners placed animal bones, a food vessel and flint tools inside the grave.

The bones were all that remained of joints of meat given either to accompany the deceased on their voyage to the world of the dead or as a symbol of fertility. Such tombs served as a focus for ceremonies linking the living and the dead, and may also have marked the community’s ownership of the surrounding land.

Having walked around the base of Gib Hill I did notice that there were stones placed at certain points, lying flat on the ground. Whether these stones had some sort of ritualistic purpose remains a mystery.

 

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