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Whit Stones

Standing Stones

<b>Whit Stones</b>Posted by juameiImage © juamei
Also known as:
  • Whitstones

Nearest Town:Minehead (12km ENE)
OS Ref (GB):   SS853462 / Sheet: 181
Latitude:51° 12' 10.51" N
Longitude:   3° 38' 31.16" W

Added by Rhiannon


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<b>Whit Stones</b>Posted by juamei <b>Whit Stones</b>Posted by juamei

Fieldnotes

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[visited 1/7/6] Its a weird thing relative perspective, in a different place & time I'd have called these smallish, but here they are massive. Two gert big chunks of rock leaning to the side, I don't know whether they were ever standing but tbh they look as if they were. Apparently they were used as medieval forrest boundary stones so I'm unsure about a prehistoric provenance, all complicated by a weird metal thing attached to one of them (see pictures) [edit] its an OS thing apparently (see misc notes) so I didn't bother putting the extreme closeup up. The views though, oh the views. The moors off to the right and the beautiful devon/somerset cliffy coast to the left.

Access is ok, but difficult for wheels as you need to go up a bank and along a narrow path in the heather. Parking is by the side of the road, or by the clifftop and a little walk.
juamei Posted by juamei
5th July 2006ce
Edited 6th July 2006ce

Folklore

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Above Porlock Hill, imbedded in the heather, to the left of the road, are two large stones called the Whitstones. Mentioned in Guide Books of the district, they are traditionally said to have been thrown by St. Dubricius and the Devil, from Hurlstone Point, during a hurling contest.
Mr. H. of Porlock, giving a variation of this legend, said they were thrown by "Dr. Foster" and the Devil. He said many attempts had been made to remove the stones from their horizontal position to upright, but that no one could move them an inch.
Between sixty to seventy years ago a Mr. M., steward to the Squire of Porlock Manor, made an attempt without any success.
Another informant, old Tommy S-- of Porlock, said the stones were thrown by an Angel and the Devil, and a third informant, an old inhabitant of the nearby village of Horner, again said they were thrown by Dr. Foster and the Devil. No information about the legendary person, Dr. Foster, could be obtained.
Scraps of Folk-Lore from Somerset
E. O. Begg
Folklore, Vol. 56, No. 3. (Sep., 1945), pp. 293-295.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st October 2006ce

The Giant of Grabbist and the Devil had had quite enough of each other. Exmoor wasn't big enough for the both of them. They decided to have a competition and whoever lost would have to leave the place for good.

They met up on Bossington Beacon; it was to be a throwing contest, and they'd each throw a big stone over to Porlock Common, about four miles away. The devil went first. His stone sailed up through the air and landed -douf- on the common, pointing up to the sky. Then it was the giant's turn. Just as he was about to release his stone- "A-HEM," the devil coughed. The stone still flew through the air to the common, but landed about three feet short of Old Nick's.

Well it was obvious: the giant would have to leave. Like heck he was - he gave the devil a shove and sat down on top of him. The devil was squirming and crying, but the giant just took out his pipe and calmly began smoking. When he'd finished he tapped his pipe out on the devil's head, picked him up by the tail, and said "I don't think that was a fair throw. We'll throw from Quantock later on. In the meantime you go and cool your head." He tossed the devil up in the air and batted him out into Porlock Bay.

(retold from a version by Ruth Tongue, who heard it locally in the 1940/50s; Tongue and Briggs, 'Folktales of England' 1965)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th August 2005ce

Miscellaneous

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The two stones are on the NE slope of Porlock Common. They're quite low, both less than a metre. One is decorated with an OS mark and stud, and they both lean a bit. A 13th century document describing the boundaries of the Royal Forest mentions them as the 'Whitestones'.

Some more stones lie nearby at SS864461, and are believed to be the 'fif stones' mentioned in the same document, though there now seem to be three standing and one partly buried. One is inscribed with three sets of initials in an 18th? century hand.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th August 2005ce