According to a popular and widespread legend in the west of England, stone circles are the petrified remains of women having been turned to stone as punishment for dancing on a Sunday. They stand as a warning to others thinking about transgression. Here near Penzance, this particular group of women were turned to stone along with their musicians, a fiddler and two pipers. As with most oral traditions around the World, this one too is capable of adapting to specific, local detail. The reason why the fiddler and the pipers are some distance away from the spot where the maidens were dancing, it is said, is because the musicians heard the bells of the nearby church at St Buryan in the wind as they struck midnight.
They realised that they were breaking religious rules and went running off up the hill leaving the maidens dancing. Not surprisingly, given such a moralistic nature of this legend, the cowards were caught in flight and turned to stone. Getting to the Merry Maidens stone circle is easy. And there is an ample car park with space for about 4 or 5 cars, or a bus. A public footpath running roughly east-west passes through the stone circle — the path can be seen on the Google map above.
Stonehenge this is not, and restored or not, this is an interesting prehistoric landscape that is definitely worth a visit. Merry Maidens: Bus stop and car park. Having visited over countries on six of the seven continents I am often surprised by the limited information available for archaeological sites in many travel guides.
With my passion for travel and professional background in archaeology, I started Archaeology Travel. Here I share my experiences of seeing truly spectacular places, as well as offering my tips and recommendations. Other websites and guides may appear to cover more areas and attractions, but the information on this website is based on first-hand experiences, not copied from other, sometimes misleading sources.
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Your email address will not be published. The original in the Royal Cornwall Museum. After a quick but damp stop at The Pipers As we approach, the noise of tractors gets increasingly loud. The northern gate into the Merry Maidens field has been chained and padlocked, so we have to go round to the "main" entrance. Here the source of the noise becomes apparent, as two tractors are performing a series of complicated dance steps in a quest to mow the hay around the circle.
Where's that one man and his dog, Spot, these days? Progress eh? If that wasn't enough, a little party of Americans are being shown how to dowse by their local tour guide. No chance of a quiet wander here today. And it's raining. I remain ambivalent about Merry Maidens. On the one hand it's a beautiful circle albeit restored , with views of nearby Gun Rith and the rounded hills of SW Penwith.
Stones of England - The Merry Maidens stone circle
If you get it to yourself on a sunny day, it's an utter joy. On the other hand, its perfection is a bit too, well, perfect. And its roadside placing makes it a source of almost constant visitors, most of whom drive up, get out, take a few pics and leave. Today a couple of women arrive while we're there and almost immediately have a row about something. So it's a somewhat sad experience today. The combination of tractors, dowsers, cars and rows makes this something of an anti-climatic end to this summer's Penwith stone-spotting. But there are a couple of pluses. First, while we wait for the bus, a cyclist arrives and we chat to him for a few minutes.
He's trying to cram in as many places as he can and seeing the much-highlighted map asks if we've been to Sancreed Well and if it's worth going to see. Certainly is. And you might want to have a look at Carn Euny and fogou whilst there. I hope he made it there and enjoyed it. Secondly, we get onto the bus and the sun comes out.
We sit up top, in a pretty stiff wind it must be said, and enjoy the trip around the peninsular. There are few better ways to see West Penwith and it finishes the holiday on the hoped-for high that Merry Maidens sadly didn't manage to conjure today. Posted by thesweetcheat 18th July ce.
The fourth of the Penwithian circles, Merry Maidens usually leaves me a bit disappointed. Its easy access makes it busy and also takes away some of the atmosphere, for me. There's no moorland walk, no secluded space, just a field next to the road. That said, the circle itself is lovely and it is very pretty. Today, there are cars parked up and a couple dowsing in the circle. I walk around the circle and renew acquaintances with it, but don't linger. Posted by thesweetcheat 29th August ce.
How to get to The Merry Maidens Stone Circle by Bus?
Visited This is a really fab place and so easy to visit. There is a layby right outside the field in which the circle stands. There is a very weathered abd battered sign post pointing the way to the site although the circle is easily sen from the B When I visited it was a lovely, sunny Spring day and four people were sunbathing in the centre of the circle which ruined the atmosphere somewhat! This is an excellent site in my opinion on par with Boskawen-Un circle - but much easier to access and I would highly recommend a visit if in the area.
For some reason, our latest visit Perhaps the visit to Boscawen-Ros had got me in the right frame of mind? Anyway, for once there was no-one at the circle when we arrived, so we managed to have a lounge in the longer-than-usual grass under a beaming sun. When eventually people did arrive, they came over the stile from Lamorna direction and had obviously walked, which made me even happier.
I must learn to be less of a fascist about drivers. At least until next time we're there when a mini-bus pulls up Posted by thesweetcheat 21st July ce. There is supposedly a second circle in the vicinity, known as 'Tregurnow circle', located roughly at SW However, I was there last week, and could see no sign of it on the ground last reported sighting was in the s.
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Lots of interesting stones in the field boundary wall a few yards away, but that's not unusual around these parts. Posted by ocifant 17th October ce Edited 9th August ce. This circle is so unbelievably circular, that it seems too good to be true. I stood in its centre and rotated degrees whilst Alfie the terrier ran round and round it! A lovely site and we were completely alone, possibly due to the fact that it was a FREEZING cold day, blustery and grey, but all the more exhilarating for it.
This place is surrounded by stone - not only the standing stones in fields near by but huge pieces of stone which make up the field boundaries. I wish I understood more about landscape archaeology so I could fully appreciate some of the landscapes I spend my time gazing at! From here, it is just a mere hop, skip and a jump into the field diagonally opposite if you look down the road to Gun Rith Menhir, which you can actually see from this field.
Also, don't miss the lovely hole stone in the gateway just up the road. Posted by Vicster 24th February ce.
The wind was blowing a gale, but at least the fog had lifted by the time we got here. I managed to take some nice photos, but nothing that isn't on TMA already, though I may try to stitch a panorama together at a later date. Posted by ocifant 13th October ce. I last visited here over a year ago, in late spring, and never felt I could gather enthusiasm for the site.
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Too close to the road, too perfect in its approach, it struck me as almost an exhibit in 'theme park Penwith', such is the nature of the location.