The Merry Maidens

The Merry Maidens, in the parish of St Buryan, is probably Cornwall’s most famous stone circle. It is also its best, being a circle of 19 stones up to 1.5m (4.5ft) tall arranged in a perfect circle. The Merry Maiden is apparently one of 5 stone circles which can be found in West Penwith and all consist of 19 stones.

The local legend or myth about the creation of the stones suggests that nineteen maidens were turned into stone as punishment for dancing on a Sunday. (Dans Maen translates as Stone Dance). The pipers, two megaliths some distance north-east of the circle, are said to be the petrified remains of the musicians who played for the dancers. A more detailed story explains why the Pipers are so far from the Maidens - apparently the two pipers heard the church clock in St Buryan strike midnight, realised they were breaking the sabbath, and started to run up the hill away from the maidens who carried on dancing without accompaniment.

The Pipers

Close up view of The Merry Maidens