Ancient sites and artefacts near Chesterfield
Words & Images: Colin Harrison
There are three stones circles known about on Barbrook Moor (also known as 'Big Moor') on the other side of the Sheffield Road (the A621), which runs from the large roundabout at the bottom of the hill near Baslow. Number 1 is in the best condition of any in the Peak District (number 2, just a little way away, is virtually invisible, and number 3, a few hundred yards to the north, is less complete). It is close to a good path, easily visible, and about the normal size and shape for a circle on any of the moors near Chesterfield.
To get there, either leave Chesterfield on the Chatsworth Road or go up through Old Brampton. If using the Chatsworth Road, at the top of the hill take the road signposted to Cutthorpe and then turn left, where it joins the road that comes up from Old Brampton. After a few hundred yards, where the road you're on bears sharp left, there's a turning on your right (Clodhall Lane), signposted to Curbar - take this. After about 50 yards it goes over another road and is then almost completely straight, with panoramic views of the moors to the west, for about 2 miles, where it reaches the Sheffield Road, where you turn right. In under a mile you'll see a large white gate on your left, which is the access to the track you need to go along. There are parking spaces on either side of the road but nowhere obvious to lock a bike – if cycling, the best plan is to take your bike through the pedestrian gate and then attach it to one of the fence posts on the right, rather than to the large gate itself which might be needed for access. Mountain Rescue use the moors for training some weekends, so it's not safe to assume it won't be used, even on a Sunday. The track is OK for mountain bikes, but it's only a few hundred yards to the stone circle from the gate anyway, which is about 6.5 miles from Storrs Road, depending on your exact start point.
Go along the track for about 600 yards and you'll see, to your right, the larger stones of the circle. At the point where it is closest to the track there's a path leading to it – it's only a few yards. A little further in the same direction is another, more recent structure, a well-constructed solid circle of stones with many more piled inside it, whose origin and use are uncertain. One of the more obvious paths going to the left leads to another large circle of stones, forming a decent wall, which was an animal enclosure. The whole moor is covered in ancient artefacts such as cairns and barrows, evidence that there was a pre-historic settlement of some sort on the moor. Cairns are piles of stones; some mark burial sites, others may have had ritual significance, while some are probably just piles of stones! It can be hard to tell, and it's not unusual for a pile of stones to be declared a cairn and vice-versa. It's quite easy to lose your bearings when wandering along the many tracks (this is open access land), but you can regain them by locating the noise of traffic from the Sheffield Road, which will be to the east.
The circle is shown on OS maps (Landranger 119 or OS Explorer OL 24, map reference is SK 27855 75583, but it isn't named.
Useful web sites: Megalithic Portal: www.megalithic.co.uk
Derbyshire Heritage: www.derbyshireheritage.co.uk