Nine Standards

Location : Kirkby Stephen   Grid Ref : NY 825061
 

Nine Standards, Kirkby Stephen. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

On a sprawling hill in the North Pennines, and at a height of 2172 ft (662 m) above sea level, Nine Standards Rigg lays on the route of the Coast to Coast long distance trail. On the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and on the main watershed of England, it overlooks the town of Kirkby Stephen three miles to the west.

 

During summer 2005, there was some repair and rebuilding of some of the Nine Standards. Photo by Simon Ledingham

Nine Standards Rigg takes its name from the line of cairns which stand on the edge of the escarpment just north of the summit. The origin of the nine “stone men” or columnar cairns on the summit, is a mystery, and some of the cairns, which are about 10 feet tall, are now in a perilous state. According to Wainwright, whose Coast to Coast route crosses the fell, they are very ancient and are marked on 18th century maps. One theory is that they were constructed by the Roman army to look like troops from a distance.

 

Kirkby Stephen from the two northernmost cairns. Photo by Ann Bowker

At the summit of Nine Standards Rigg is a trig point that marks the watershed divide across England. From this point, rivers flow west toward the Irish Sea and east toward the North Sea. Nearby, on a seperate cairn built to commemorate the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, there is a metal plaque that guides the eye toward distant viewpoints.

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