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Plan of Arbor Low Stone Henge, Middleton Common, Middleton by Youlgreave, c 1980s
D D Brumhead
Brumhead, D D
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Arbor Low dates from the Neolithic to Early Bronze Age period, and the surrounding landscape is littered with barrows from the Late Bronze Age, constructed around a thousand years after the henge was completed. The 'Stonehenge of the North', this stone circle and henge, built around 3000 BC, is probably the most famous ancient site in the North Midlands. The views from the circle are dramatic and it is located 1230 feet above sea level. The word Arbor has the old meaning of the central axis or central support, though others suggest the name 'Arbor Low' is thought to be a corruption of the old english eordburgh-hlaw meaning 'the earthwork mound'. The henge, consisting of a 7ft high bank with a 6ft deep ditch cut into a sloping hilltop with 2 entrances at the NW and SE, provides a tight enclosure for the stone circle. Whether it was built before or after the circle is unclear but the ease in which they combine makes the idea that they are contemporary a realistic proposition. Around 50 recumbent limestones lie inside the henge forming a circle at the centre of which is an arrangement of similar stones. It is not known whether the stones were ever standing, although the central ones probably were, forming a cove-type structure similar to that at Avebury. One of the barrows was incorporated into the henge bank, and the largest barrow known as Gib Hill, is only a short walk away towards the South. The site was excavated from 1901 - 1902 when a human burial was discovered close to the stones that are thought to form a cove, but there were no other major discoveries. There were earlier excavations at the site; in 1845 Thomas Bateman excavated the tumulus attached to the bank, and three years later he led an excavation at Gib Hill. The monument is in the care of English Heritage.