British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain
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Nine Standards

Nine Standards

The Nine Standards, 2,136 feet high near Kirky Stephen, on the Westmorland border, are so-called, 'from a tradition that on nine huge stones were placed the standards, to appear like the vanguard of an advancing army' from Mackenzie Walcott in 1860.

Shown on 18th century maps, the Nine Standards are a line of nine drystone cairns on Nine Standards Rigg overlooking the Vale of Eden. Apart from the legendary story of their origin, there have been various theories as to their explanation: Edmund Gibson in Britannia thought that the "Pyramids" seemed designed to preserve the memory of some great action or other, likely a battle.  But the most likely explanation is that they are boundary markers, as the old border between Westmorland and Yorkshire passes right through them. There also may be nine in imitation of prehistoric stone circles and other antiquities bearing names of this magical number.