We parked on the Charlbury Road to visit this enchanting scheduled ancient monument – the remains of a what must have been a magnificent chambered tomb perhaps once on a par with Waylands Smithy. One very large stone and a few smaller ones, it stands within a Cotswold stone enclosure surrounded by holly trees. The overall impression was one of dark green coolness. A place of tranquillity in spite of the nearby busy road.
WOW – what a cracker this is! The stones are much bigger than I was expecting and the site was a lot easier to find than I had imagined. The only thing I can add to the directions previously given is that the site is opposite Cox's Lane along the B4022.
This is a very atmospheric place with the stones surrounded by trees and a small dry stone wall with a plaque stating this is a protected prehistoric monument. I don't know what it is about sites hidden amongst trees but they always seem more atmospheric to me than those in open surroundings. Very easy to access and definitely worth a visit when in the area – easily the best site I visited today.
Cloudhigh and I fixed the wussy Jane's flat tyre (honestly, you'd think an opinionated, stroppy, independent bird like her would know how to fix a flat tyre), picked up as we left the Whispering Knights. As I applied great force to the rigid wheel nuts, Jane was heard to say to the radiant Lissy "She's better to have around than a bloke", which I felt was a bit unfair to Cloudhigh, but nonetheless made me grin naughtily as I wielded the wrench with panache. But I digress.
After a fine Sunday lunch in the Chequers, we all bowled up at the Hoar Stone. It was Cloudhigh's and Lissy's first visit, and it certainly seemed to have an impact on them both, which was great. I for one couldn't stop taking photos of Lissy exploring the broken chamber - there was something compelling about her vibe and the site's vibe melding. Very cool.
After some time there, the delightful Jane left for the pictures, and Cloudhigh, Lissy and I all set off for the Hawk Stone.
It proved to be a challenging excursion to the megalithic sites of Oxfordshire (challenging because we couldn’t reach half of them, and the weather became increasingly pants); this time with the lovely Karen, and the bewitching Fiona, (who, it must be noted for the record, is something of a megalithic goddess). “Oh, take me away from Coventry for the day,” Fiona had implored, so we duly obliged.
Arriving at the Hoar Stone first, both Karen and Fiona were instantly enchanted by the huge, green stones as they stood hidden within their grove of holly trees. Thousands of sparkling water droplets dripped from the boughs after the rainstorm earlier in the morning. The brooding silence was amplified by the wet day, and the vibe was great.
We were able to linger, and spent much time communing with the stones, savouring the sense of calm stillness they generate within the soul. This is such a wonderful, secret place, it’s well worth a visit. Eventually, compelled by hunger and the thought of a pint, we reluctantly tore ourselves away to visit Lyneham Longbarrow, via Chipping Norton.
On an evening excursion out to the Hawk Stone, Jane and I stopped briefly at the Hoar Stone, a very lovely spot virtually hidden in a small copse on the A44 (the delightful Jane gives directions below). This is a broken up barrow, but still very impressive.
It was early summer when we popped by, and the massive, fabulously mossy stones brooded quietly under dense foliage – notably a large amount of holly trees, which was nice. Dog’s Mercury carpeted the woodland floor all around the stones, and despite being on a busy road, the place was very centering and peaceful.
I notice Jane reckons it’s impossible to photograph; well, we’ll just have to see about that, won’t we . . . and taking some atmospheric photos of this site is high on my agenda. Looking forward to the return visit.
25 July 2003
These stones really are very difficult to spot from the B4022 and it isn't until you take the turn off right beside the wrecked burial chamber that you can see them. Even then they don't exactly leap out at you with the trees wearing their summer foliage!
The stones retain a power and atmosphere of their own despite being so ruined that I found it difficult to picture the site as a burial chamber and without the trees. Can't honestly say I could even see the orientation myself without looking it up.
Visited 11th May 2003: On my way from a delightful weekend in Oxford, inevitably I popped into a few sites along the way. The Hoar stone was my first port of call.
I've visited the site before, but eight years on I had no recollection of where it was, and only some rubbish directions to go by. After driving up and down the road between Enstone and Taston, I realised that the site wasn't where I'd thought it was (the dot on the map I was looking at was a mile stone!). The memories eventually came flooding back, and I recalled doing exactly the same thing back in 1995.
Just for the record, you need to take the B4022 from Enstone towards Taston, then take the first left hand turn and park immediately on your left. Now turn your head 90 degrees to the right and you're looking at it. Sounds easier than it is, because the chamber is shielded from the road by trees.
WOW! What a great place to find, tucked away just off the A44 at Enstone. (Coming up from Oxford, just turn left after the ugly garage as you hit Enstone, towards Spelsbury and it's on the corner of the next crossroads - about 100 ms off the main A44)
This is a HUGE monumental beastie - quite hard to photograph as it's tucked away amongst some trees and is very, very big.
A very masculine place but comforting, too, like being swept up into the arms of a strong man. Some real swirls of magic coming off it. Sit on the broken stones nearby and take in that mossy green vibe. It's dank, it's dark, it's brooding and big. You'll love it.
I thought I might acquaint you all with some of, what appear to be, the least popular sites so far, since no-one has written about them, in the order I visited them...so there's more to follow.
THE HOAR STONE - Visited 20/12/00
It took a great deal of effort, a little luck and Copey's description of it's location to find this one without an OS Map, on a cold December day , with frozen snow on the ground. Five minutes walking around in a circle amongst the trees and bushes, after parking our car in what we thought might be the spot, I (and my mate Rich) stumbled across this nine foot monster stone, just yards from where we set out (this was after we climbed what appeared to be a small water tank that we mistook for a barrow!!).
We duly congratulated ourselves and took our obligatory photograph - surely we can't be the only saddoes who try to recreate the actual shots from the book...or perhaps we are!!
At Enstone [...] is another Druidical remain, a ruined Cromlech, popularly called the "Hoarstone." [...] There is a tradition that a city once existed near this spot, and the remains of wells have been found in the neighbouring fields.* An ancient trackway, marked in some old maps as the "London Road" (communicating with the country about Worcester and Hereford), runs westward from the Hoarstone, passing near several Tumuli which will be mentioned hereafter.
*Information from the Rev. E. Marshall of Enstone.
Page 8 in 'The History of Banbury' by Alfred Beesley [1841?] (online at the Internet Archive).
Near Enstone is a ruined cromlech known as the "Hoar Stone." The villagers say that "it was put up in memory of a certain general named Hoar, who was slain in the Civil War. It was put there, as that was a piece of land no one owned. A letter signed ZWn in the Oxford Times of March 29, 1902, mentions this story, and adds that "there was a battle over there, Lidstone way." Lidstone being a hamlet of Enstone, about one and a half miles to the north west. Mr W Harper in 'Observations on Hoar-Stones,' printed in Archaeologica (1832) xxv., 54, speaks of the "War Stone at Enstone. This conspicuous object is said by the country people to have been set up 'at a French wedding.'"
From:Stray Notes on Oxfordshire Folklore, by Percy Manning, in Folklore, Vol. 13, No. 3. (Sep. 29, 1902), pp. 288-295.
The Danes came from Northamptonshire, and they are reputed to have been told that they should come to see the Hoarstone (seven miles SSE of Rollrich) they would be lords of England. Hook norton, the entrenched position of the Saxons, was stormed by the Danes.. The Saxon defeat was very severe, but the battle seems to have checked the Danish advance.
p29 in 'Our Ancient Monuments and the Land Around Them' by Charles P Kains-Jackson, 1880.
Two 'classic' megalithic stories are attached to the Hoar Stone barrow: that if anyone tries to drag the stones away, they will return of their own accord when no-one's looking - and that the main stone ('the Old Soldier') goes down to the village stream to drink on Midsummer's Eve.
(mentioned in J Hawkes' Shell Guide of British Archaeology)