One of England's best preserved circles,
it is nearly 24m wide
The Merry Maidens lie in a field adjacent to the B3315, the Newlyn-to-Land's End road.
This is the best known and preserved circle in Cornwall: it is believed to be complete, which is
rare. Its nineteen granite stones are not large (the
tallest, 1.4m high, is in the south west, and the shortest directly opposite), but neat and regular,
and form a perfect circle of 23.8m (77ft 10in) diameter. The stones are regularly spaced and
exactly at the east there is a gap (an entrance or the site of a missing stone).
The Merry Maidens
are also called Dawn's Men. This name has nothing to do with sunrise: it is a corruption of Dans
Maen, or Stone Dance in Cornish: a story of nineteen maidens dancing on a Sunday who were transformed
into stones. The pipers that had played for them were petrified too: the two standing stones called
the Pipers are in a field to the north-east of the circle. This legend was probably
initiated by the early Christian Church to stop the pagan Cornish peasantry continuing old habits.