The Real Nine Ladies
You might not be able to go back in time and find an attractive, intelligent man with pride issues, but Nine Ladies IS a real place. I didn't see it in person until a few years after I wrote the manuscript for Nine Ladies. It's a 4,000 year-old stone circle in Derbyshire on Stanton Moor.
Stanton Moor is in the Derbyshire Peak District and it contains the remains of burial cairns, monoliths, and two stone circles: Nine Ladies and Doll Tor. It’s their disruption by early archaeologists that I imagined giving Nine Ladies its time-traveling power in the first place.
If you walk from the village of Stanton-in-Peak, you’re supposed to walk 300 meters until you see a sign for the footpath to the stone circle. Unfortunately, I'm an American with no idea how long a meter should feel like and the sign was overgrown. So, we walked way too far to unmarked trails through creepy woods before we gave up and turned around. But we got lucky—on our way back to the village we met someone leaving the same footpath we were looking for. She wanted to know where the village was, and we wanted to know where the stone circle was. Happiness all around, and the adventure continued.
The name Nine Ladies comes from the folk tradition of nine women dancing on the Sabbath being turned to stone. The nine stones are set on the inner edge of a slight bank, and form a ring about 40 feet around. Each stone is about 3 feet high and made from local millstone grit, a coarse sandstone.
It was relatively quiet when we visited. However, on the summer solstice, Nine Ladies is a gathering place for people celebrating the passing of the sun. Druids and pagans and others engaging in spirituality meet to observe solar events and commune with nature and one another.
We missed the summer solstice by about a week. Still, I stood in the center of Nine Ladies, but no handsome landowners who need to reevaluate how they treat people outside of their social circle appeared. Elizabeth had better luck.