O.S. Grid Ref:- SK235621
Rowtor Rocks are situated behind the Druid Inn on the western edge of the picturesque Derbyshire village of Birchover, which is located close to Stanton Moor.
A fascinating place to visit, carved through the gritstone rocks of the dramatic tor there are caves with rooms, alcoves, benches and tunnels and flights of worn steps. There are cup and ring markings and square sockets which may once have supported crosses. The tor is around 80 yards in length and about 50 feet in height
Although it has been claimed that Rowtor Rocks has some connection with the ancient Druids of the past, this does not appear to be the case. The nearby Druids Inn was once a meeting place in the of the Ancient Order of Druids and the connection to the rocks probably arose in Victorian times, possibly as a means of making Rowtor Rocks more interesting and promoting it to attract more visitors.
The caves are in fact reputed to have been the work of the Rev. Thomas Eyre who lived at Rowtor Hall and was parson of the local church during the seventeenth century, Eyre was known to entertain company and compose his sermons on Rowtor Rocks, which formed part of his grounds.
There are also various examples of prehistoric rock art to be found at Rowtor Rocks. In all, five ancient carvings have been discovered on the western end of the outcrop with the best preserved to be found on a boulder just below the ‘armchair’.The carvings are etched on the edge of the stone.
A second example lies close by on a boulder a few metres further to the west on the same level as the first. The carving, which is slightly weathered, consists of a cup with a partial ring trailing off into a ‘snake-like extension’, a design which is unique in this area. A further curve, like a wing, close by makes it resemble some kind of bird.
The finest example on the rocks, however, is very unusual and lies on a small boulder approximately five metres down on the northern face of the outcrop. It is composed of two concentric rings with a cross in the centre and a cupmark in each segment. Around the outside of the outer circle are a series of touching curves, resembling the petals of a flower.
Other carvings on Rowtor Rocks include a couple of badly weathered simple cup and rings (one with a possible ‘gutter’) and numerous other cupmarks which could be man-made or could be natural.
Rowtor Rocks contains several finely balanced rocking stones which can be moved by the application of a shoulder. One of these could once be moved with ease by hand, but was moved from its position by fourteen young men on Whit Sunday 1799 and although it was replaced it is not now so finely balanced.
To reach Rowtor Rocks, from the car park at the Druids Inn at Birchover, follow the stone wall in front of the inn to the left and proceed along a track which leads to the church, on reaching a small opening at the end of the wall, follow along to arrive at the rocks.