The Merry Maidens
The Merry Maidens ( grid reference SW432245 ), also known as Dawn's Men (a likely corruption of the Cornish Dans Maen "Stone Dance") is a late neolithic stone circle located 2 miles (3 km) to the south of the village of St Buryan, in Cornwall, United Kingdom.

Site description
The circle, which is thought to be complete, comprises nineteen granite megaliths and is situated in a field alongside the B3315 between Newlyn and Land's End. It lies close to the Tregiffian Burial Chamber. The circle is approximately twenty-four metres in diameter, with the tallest stone standing 1.4 metres tall. Stones are regularly spaced around the circle, with a gap or entrance at its exact most easterly point.

The standard interpretation of prehistoric stone circles is that they were used for ritual purposes, and the same applies to the Merry Maidens. This interpretation is based on lack of evidence for more mundane activities. That the stones are placed at the cardinal points of the compass might also suggest an astronomical or calendar function, perhaps relating to the agricultural year. The 19 stones at the Merry Maidens is the same as, or similar to, the number of stones at other circles in the Penwith region - it has been suggested that 19 would have been an important number for a people who celebrated the path of the moon through the great lunar cycle.

Myth and legend
The local myth about the creation of the stones suggests that nineteen maidens were turned into stone as punishment for dancing on a Sunday. ( Dans Maen translates as Stone Dance.) The pipers, two megaliths some distance north-east of the circle, are said to be the petrified remains of the musicians who played for the dancers. A more detailed story explains why the Pipers are so far from the Maidens - apparently the two pipers heard the church clock in St Buryan strike midnight, realised they were breaking the sabbath, and started to run up the hill away from the maidens who carried on dancing without accompaniment. These petrifaction legends are often associated with stone circles, and is reflected in the folk names of some of the nearby sites, for example, the Tregeseal Dancing Stones, the Nine Maidens of Boskednan, as well as the more distant Hurlers and Pipers on Bodmin Moor. It is likely that these tales were encouraged by the early Christian Church to prevent old pagan habits continuing at the sites.