Arbor Low Stone Circle and Gib Hill Barrow - History and Facts | History Hit

Arbor Low Stone Circle and Gib Hill Barrow

Derbyshire, United Kingdom

Lily Johnson

03 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Alamy

About Arbor Low Stone Circle and Gib Hill Barrow

Arbor Low Stone Circle and Gib Hill Barrow are two Neolithic sites that sit side-by-side in the Peak District. Arbor Low is one of the best preserved henge circles in the country, while nearby Gib Hill Barrow served as a burial mound in the Early Bronze Age.

Arbor Low and Gib Hill history 

Built in the neolithic period, the site has held significance to those in the area for over 10,000 years. Arbor Low is a henge structure, built between 3000-6000 years ago, and is the most important of its kind in the East Midlands. 

Though it has never been excavated to its full extent, the site is thought to have been a major ceremonial centre for pagan communities in the area during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. The site’s stone circle, substantial earthwork structure and burial mound indicate this, all being features of pagan worship. During excavations in 1901-2, skeletal remains were found at the site as well as arrowheads, flint scrapers and bone and antler tools.

The nearby Gib Hill is a further Neolithic burial mound actually consisting of two different mounds built atop one another. The first is a Long Barrow dating from the earlier part of the neolithic era, and was the first structure built on the entire site. The second mound was built up to 2000 years later during the Bronze Age. Here 19th-century excavations uncovered a cist, a small stone coffin-like box, that contained cremated bones and food vessels, offered by mourners to the dead.

Arbor Low and Gib Hill today 

Arbor Low and Gib Hill are two of the best-preserved prehistoric sites in the UK, and provide a pleasant yet interesting walk steeped in history.

The Arbor Low stone circle consists of 50 limestone rocks, quarried from a nearby site, that may once have stood upright but now lie flat. These encircle a collection of 6 smaller rocks, making up what was known as the ‘cove’ of the site.

The stones are themselves encircled by a substantial earthworks, with a 2-meter high bank and accompanying 2-meter low ditch surrounding them. Entrance points are featured at either end, and a Bronze Age burial mound may also be seen built into the earthworks.

Gib Hill barrow sits approximately 350m away, and the ridges of the two different mounds may still be distinguished today.

Getting to Arbor Low and Gib Hill

Arbor Low and Gib Hill are located in Derbyshire, and can be reached via the A515 Buxton to Ashbourne road. There is a small carpark near to the site on the track up to Upper Oldhams Farm, following which a 300m walk takes you to the stone circle. This access takes you through a working farm and the landowner charges a small fee for entry. 

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