Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians
A circle of prehistoric standing stones in an open field in Cornwall.

Merry Maidens Dancing on a Sunday in Cornwall

South west of Penzance, and not that far from Cornwall’s Land’s End, is a restored, Neolithic stone circle known according to native folklore as the Merry Maidens. Nineteen stones made using local granite form a perfect circle. The stone circle is one of a number of ritual and mortuary features on this prehistoric landscape, that is easy to visit whether on foot, in a car, or using public transport. Stonehenge this is not, and restored or not, this is an interesting prehistoric landscape that is definitely worth a visit.

A circle of prehistoric standing stones in an open field in Cornwall.
View from the south, and the outlying stones.

There is More to See Than Just a Stone Circle

Tregiffian burial chamber, Cornwall.
The roadside Tregiffian burial chamber, showing the kerb stones in an arc, the decorated jambstone and the entrance to the burial chamber.
Tregiffian Cup Marks
The ‘replica’ cup-marked jambstone.
Tregiffian Stone Royal Cornwall Museum
The original in the Royal Cornwall Museum.

But Why ‘merry Maidens’, and What Have They Got to Do With Sunday Trading You Ask?

Join the Merriment: Directions to the Merry Maidens

Car park at the Merry Maidens Stone Circle, Cornwall.
Merry Maidens: Bus stop and car park.

Add Merry Maidens Stone Circles to Your Itineraries & Travel Lists

Merry Maidens Stone Circle

In open farmland on the road from Newlyn and Penzance to Land’s End is a cluster of ritual and funerary monuments dating to the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. The main attraction is a modest but perfect stone circle known as the Merry Maidens. Nearby are a few standing stones, the tallest still standing menhirs in Cornwall, and a partly destroyed burial chamber. As with many megalithic sites in the area, the stone circle and standing stones here get their names from a local legend.

Tregiffian Burial Chamber

One the side of the B3315 road, about 100 m west of the car park at Merry Maidens stone circle, is a partly preserved late Neolithic burial chamber. What we see at the site today is a walled and roofed entrance passage which would have lead into a central chamber, which was covered by the road some time in the mid 1800s. In front of the entrance is a slab with cup and ring markings. This is a replica, the original is in the Royal Cornwall Museum. The first excavations were conducted in 1871. Pits were found, filled with ash and bone remains, suggesting cremation.

Archaeology Travel Writer

Thomas Dowson

With a professional background in archaeology and a passion for travel, I founded Archaeology Travel to help more people explore our world’s fascinating pasts. Born in Zambia, I trained as an archaeologist at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa) and taught archaeology at the universities of Southampton and Manchester (England). Read More

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