Forests to discover: Stanton Moor



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Forests to discover: Stanton Moor

Stanton Moor in the north of England is one of the most beautiful, fascinating and intriguing forests in the world, not only for the beautiful moorland, but also for the history it holds. The forest is home to four mysterious stone circles dating back to the Bronze Age, the most famous of these circles being nicknamed Nine Ladies, the others are named Stanton Moor I, Stanton Moor III and Stanton Moor IV.

These other circles are largely abandoned and destroyed, only a few stones remain. The legends are related to the Druids and the ancient spirits of the forest. Much of Stanton Moor is designated as a geological site of regional significance due to the unusual nature of its sandstones.

Much of the vegetation growing on the moor is made up of mountain moors, which are considered a local and national priority habitat of the Biodiversity Action Plan. Several large wind-eroded sandstone pillars sit around the edge of Stanton Moor and form significant features of its topography.

From the north, clockwise, these outcrops are the Duke of York Stone, Cat Stone, Duchess of Sutherland Stone, Gorse Stone, Heart Stone, Cork Stone and Andle Stone. Moor sandstone has been mined for many years and has left several old dormant quarries around the moor.

In 2009 an attempt to reopen the dormant quarries failed after many local and national protests that had lasted for over ten years. The moor has four Bronze Age stone circles, these other circles are largely overgrown with vegetation and have few remaining stones.

Another circle, Doll Tor, is a short distance west of the moor. Elsewhere on the moor lie numerous modern cairns. Stanton Moor is a designated Scheduled Ancient Monument. English Heritage has commissioned a conservation plan for Stanton Moor from the Peak District National Park Authority.

Stanton Moor is made up of an outlier of Millstone Grit, known as Ashover Grit. This is a coarse-grained sandstone that resists weathering to produce coarse, sandy subsoil, and the soils themselves are typically podzol. The Ashover Grit sandstone layer lies on top of the shale, which in turn lie on carboniferous limestone. The entire moor is of geological interest as a syncline.