Nether Nutsthorpe Stone Circle, Staffordshire

"Gavin's Dance, Swinuhafen, Porkie's Ring"


Scant remains of a stone circle, c. 1600 BC, in North Staffordshire, near Leek and the Roaches National Park. Nearest village is Upper Nutsthorpe (originally "Knut's place," after a local Danish warlord in the 900's), which has a fine public house called the 'Darkish Dane' but little else to recommend it. Unique for this area, this stone circle had two small trilithons, one now incorporated into a barn as a doorway, the other facing north and now missing its lintel. The rest of the stone circle, with remains of twelve of the original 27 uprights still traceable as part of the enclosure of the current pig farm, with later dry-stone walling, is under protection as an Ancient Monument, but not open to the public, except on application to the landlord, Patrick Nichols. His daughter Bonita is a new-age Druidess who holds traditional ceremonies at the site. If you are interested, please send e-mail to Nethernut.com.

Gawain, of local and Arthurian fame, is said to have killed a giant ogre within this stone circle, at the end of a duel that lasted three days. It is still known by the old name "Gavin's Dance" in local parlance. The farm itself, which has been a working swinery for at least 2000 years, has always been called, of course, Pig's Paradise, in at least three languages that have been documented -- before Knut it was called something unspellable by the Welsh, and Swinuhafen by the Saxons, and is referred to as Porkie's Ring in modern times.The Romans and Britons probably also had names for it along the same lines, but we don't know what they were. Knut probably didn't even know what a pig was when he came, so just named the place after himself.

Nethernut Circle

What is unusual about this circle, in addition to the trilithon used as a barn door, is that in medieval times many of the stones were relocated in an attempt to form a square pig-yard, perhaps the immense effort of doing this sponsored by Christians to break a pagan circle. The site could now be loosely called a Stone Trapezoid. Swine were always an important resource at this location, as pig bones 2000 years old have been radio-carbon dated from the area. Three stones were left in situ to point to the summer and winter solstices and the Beltain moon -- also, probably, as rubbing posts for the pigs. There is a hollowed-out altar stone lying in the center which is now used as a watering trough. The Nutsthorpe strain of pigs has been famous in Staffordshre for 200 or more years: Boars reach a weight of up to 400 pounds and have huge tusks and notoriously bad tempers. (But their piglets taste very good.)

Historically, Camden mentions this place, but with no great enthusiasm. Four witches were burned there in the 1620's. An excavation took place in the 1920's but nothing of significance was found, except for some amber bead necklaces buried in a pit, probably for safety when Knut came ravaging. As to the fate of the poor woman who hid them, we will never know. Nothing else was found, although there might be more to discover under modern techniques (and having to dig through 800 years of compacted pig shit).

Unfortunately, Walmart has selected this particular piece of land for a new massive shopping center to try to destroy the traditional retail commerce of the Stoke-on-Trent urban agglomeration. The location is perfect if they can bribe the local authorities to route the proposed motorway bypass via Upper Nutsthorpe (and apparently they already have). Only old man Nichols stands in their way now, but Bonita's move to make the site part of the Peak District National Park has fallen on deaf ears in the current Parliament. Please join the movement to "Save Nether Nuts" (SNN). E-mail your MP and other politicians, threaten to assassinate them or kidnap their children and put them in with the Nutsthorpe boars, if necessary, to prevent this travesty against our ancient heritage.


Disclaimer: This is a totally imaginary ancient monument; please don't go looking for it, and especially don't traipse all over Farmer Nichols's farm, kill any politicians, or kidnap any kids and feed them to the pigs.

Grobius Shortling Stone Circle Web Site
Upper Nutsthorpe Castle