As you move along the trail across the Limestone outcrop of Staden, take a chance to look down the hillside. If you are lucky you may notice an outline of a circular structure amongst the lower fields, this is believed by some to be a Neolithic earthwork enclosure – this is Staden Low.
Standing at Staden Low, the view of the skyline of the surrounding hilly landscape is believed to have been highly significant to the Neolithic people. The earthwork may have been constructed as a place to observe the major lunar standstill in the 18.6 year cycle, and the Midsummer and Midwinter Solstices. Imagine yourself on a dark night, with no artificial light, only the stars above and a mystical moon hovering low over the rolling landscape of the Peak District. It would have truly been a sight to behold for the Neolithic people! Perhaps you’ll come back on a Lunar Solstice and see for yourself?
Evidence of Neolithic activity was found at the earthwork on an excavation in 1926 by Mr R Woolescroft. He found a polished stone axe head, as well as numerous fragments of knapped flint. Similar discoveries continued to be made in the later 1980’s excavations undertaken by Dr Makepeace across the larger site, from the lower platforms near Duke’s Drive, all the way to Colts Croft House.
Amongst these finds were four Neolithic pottery sherds (pictured above). These fragments were from a vessel that may have stored grains and foodstuffs, meaning that Staden Low may have been a Neolithic farming settlement.
However there is also evidence that they supported themselves from hunting in the wild landscape. Fragments of deer antler (see photograph below) were found in the central area of the site – not far from the path you’ve likely travelled down. This shows that hunting in balance with their natural surroundings were also a key part of Neolithic Peak District life.
A great deal of flint and chert were found across the site, from smaller flakes and knappings to larger pieces and even detailed scrapers such as those shown in the photograph. This is evidence that Staden was a site of stone tool production.
For more information on an overview of Staden Low visit Historic England’s List Entry.
Or why not have a look at the final archaeological report from the Makepeace excavations?