Nine Maidens

The Nine Maidens Stone Row

These nine granite megaliths, situated just north of St Columb Major, form a row instead of a circle, and lie unevenly spaced in a northeast alignment. They are seemingly heading towards a sole menhir known as the Fiddler, which stands just shy of half a mile further on. The row measures approximately 80m in length, the smallest stone measuring half a metre in height and the tallest over 2m. This was believed to be the only stone row in Cornwall until recently.

There are two main interpretations of stone rows. One claims that they were processional routes, especially as they sometimes culminate in a larger stone or burial mound. Another suggests that the length of a row represents the length of time a community inhabited an area, each new generation adding their own stone.

Just as for other anthropomorphically named ancient stone monuments (Merry Maidens, Hurlers etc.), the Nine Maidens were reputedly nine girls turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath and, thus, angering their god; the Fiddler, their equally sinful musical accompaniment. Despite being colourful explanations of strange groups of impossibly heavy stones, such stories are undoubtedly moral folk tales aimed at warning parishioners not to neglect prayers and to detract from their pre-Christian uses.