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Restoration of the Celebrated "Buckstone" Rock.From the 'Western Mail', December 15th, 1885.
The above wonderful mass of old red sandstone conglomerate, which was celebrated all through Britain as a rocking stone and Druidic altar, it will be remembered, was accidentally thrown from its position on the summit of a high wooded hill, about three miles from Monmouth, on the road to Coleford, on the 10th of June last. Not only were the people of the immediate neighbourhood indignant, but the London daily papers took the matter up very warmly, the Standard especially.
The huge mass is the property of the Crown, and is too well-known far and wide to again need description in these columns. As soon as he heard of the catastrophe, Mr. C. H. Crompton-Roberts, of Drybridge House, Monmouth, offered £100 towards its restoration. The Mayor of Monmouth and others put themselves in communication with the Crown authorities, who ultimately determined to restore the celebrated rock at the entire expense of the Crown.
The undertaking was one of great difficulty, the huge mass having its chief block, about 50 tons weight, turned upside down, and partly buried in the earth. The enormous top slab, or stratum, had slipped off and fallen beyond the chief block, but right side up.
Messrs. Payne and Son, stone contractors, of Lambsquay House, Coleford, were appointed to carry out the work. The contractors erected two enormous cranes and a powerful crab on the hill above the fallen rock. Then large baulks of timber were placed with the ends under the chief block, and iron rails were laid on these baulks. About six tons of chains were attached to the chief block for the purpose of "skidding" it up to a position for turning, which, after a considerable time, was accomplished. The top stratum was then hoisted adjacent to the chief stone, and the large corner was also brought to a convenient position. This was the work of months.
A plateau for the stone to rest on was then made, with an enormous iron bar let into the solid rock beneath, a bed of cement made of the best material, mixed with similar stone to the Buckstone ground up, having been prepared. The top slab was then raised into its position, being cemented and cramped on, and the corner was afterwards affixed by the same means.
The result is that the work is now completed in a most satisfactory and highly creditable manner. The rock, when the cranes, &c. are removed, will, as it now stands, scarcely, if at all, appear to have sustained any alteration, especially from the road below. Mr K. Tudor Williams, photographer, of Monmouth, has shown us some photographs of the Buckstone both before and after the overthrow and in the course of being lifted. We understand that the rock will be railed round, to prevent future mishap, and that an opening will be cut between the rock and the road, so as to afford a good view of the Buckstone to those who pass by.
On the 10th instant, this celebrated stone, which weighs about thirteen tons, and which fell from its ancient situation on the night of the 19th October, 1815, during one of the most violent and destructive storms of wind ever remembered in that part of the country, was replaced by the united and indefatigable exertions of Lieut. GOLDSMITH and Capt. GIDDY, with the aid of the materials and machinery employed about the Logan Rock, and which the Honourable Navy Board consented to grant them for so laudable a purpose.From 'The Morning Post', December 16th, 1824. Goldsmith and Giddy must have been on a roll and thought they might as well sort out the quoit after their success at the superb Treryn Dinas. I suppose Goldsmith thought people might then let him off for toppling the logan stone in the first place?!
In 1844 I visited [Anglesey] and took a drawing of the double cromlech at Llanvaelog, one of the best in the island. One cromlech was erect; the other by its side, thrown down: or rather, I should say that the two constitued the remains of a large chambered mound - perhaps of a cromlech with a passage, as at Bryn Celli in the same island. An impassioned article called 'Cromlech at Llanvaelog, Anglesey' in Archaeologia Cambrensis Jan 1864. Both of HLJ's sketches are in the Images section above.
The cap-stone of that which was erect measured thirteen feet and a half in length by about five feet in depth and width at the thickest part. The cap of the fallen one was broken in two, but when entire it was not less than fifteen feet long. Fortunately this drawing remains in my portfolio; and it shews the importance of preserving memorials of these early monuments, whenever opportunity offers, made with all possible care; for since then the fallen cromlech has utterly disappeard; and the upright one has been so seriously damaged, that its destruction will now be the work of only a few winters - all through the sheer stupidity of men!
I had occasion to pass by the spot last summer, and on going to renew my acquaintance with this venerable monument, found nothing more remaining than what is represented in the accompanying engraving. An "improving tenant" had come upon the farm. He wanted to repair his walls; and though the native rock cropped out all around, he found it more convenient to blast the fallen stone, the very existence of which was probably unknown to either the landlord or his agent. Hence the fallen one disappeared. The tenant, however, seems to have been in some degree aware of the importance of the erect cromlech; for he cut a kind of trench all round it, and by subsequent ploughings has left it standing on a kind of low mound. Formerly it stood in a grass field, among gorse bushes, with no wall near it, and only some broken embankments with Anglesey hedges on the top.
A few years ago the land came by inheritance, on the death of Lord Dinorben, to the present possessor of Kinmel; and the tenant, desirous of shewing respect to his new landlord, determined to celebrate the occasion with a bonfire. This fire he lighted on the top of the cromlech; and though the stone was five feet thick, the action of the fire and the air split the ponderous mass right through the middle, crossways! Of course this injury was not intended; but it was well known and lamented in the neighbourhood, - for several labouring people mentioned the circumstance to me, and regretted it. As it now stands, the combined action of autumn rains and winter frosts will infallibly enlarge the crack, and will complete the disintegration of the stone. The cap, too, stands now on only three stones, and is in the most imminent danger of coming down altogether, for one of them supports it by an extremely small point, very near one of the sides of the triangle of gravity; and so fine is this point, that it is a wonder how it can withstand the great pressure bearing upon it.
The stones are all of a metamorphic character, containing crystals of quartz, chlorite, and feldspar; almost granitic in texture.
Ten men, with three or four horses and some powerful levers, would repair this cromlech in a single day, and guarantee its preservation for ages. But will they do so?
Oct. 25, 1863.
The Kilmarth Rocks are a lofty range of half a mile in length, running east and west, about two miles northward from the Cheesewring, and in the parish of Linkinhorne, Cornwall. The westernmost pile, represented in the sketch, stands on the summit of this elevated ridge, and is in itself about twenty-eight feet high. It overhands at least twelve or fifteen feet towards the north, and when viewed from the east appears so slightly based, that a man or a strong gale might suffice to shove the whole mass over the tremendous precipice; but when surveyed from the western side its foundation appears more solid, and it will require perhaps many ages to subvert the wonderful pile. I would go for the rock basin alone, I love a rock basin.
The immense size of many of the granite rocks of which this ridge is formed, and the rude and heterogeneous manner in which they lie one upon another, together with the wildness and extent of the surrounding panorama, overpower the mind with awe and astonishment at the grandeur of the operations of Nature. Towards the north is seen the top of Launceston Castle, also, in clear weather, the Bristol Channel and Lundy Island; to the south-east Plymouth, its Sound, and Mount Edgcumbe; and towards the south-west the Deadman Point and the English Channel, with the bleak midland hills of Devonshire and Cornwall.
A large rock-basin, of about three feet diameter and one foot deep, is on the summit of one of the eastern rocks of Kilmarth.
The Cheesewring, Kilmarth Rocks and Trevethy Stone, Cornwall. Penny magazine of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, Jan 23, 1836, 28-29.
...I propose to give a few hitherto unpublished particulars [of the Tolven stone]. It stands at the back of a small farmhouse in Tolven (or Tolvan) Cross, about half a mile from Gweek, on the road from Helston to Truro, and just at the intersection of that road, with a less important one connecting Constantine and Wendron.One can't help thinking that the weirdness of the stone is the reason people walking on the ancient roads crossed at that spot (because it was an interesting and obvious landmark). But I'm not sure Mr Beesley would go for this theory. His theory is that the holed Men-An-Tol and this stone are holed because they're cross bases. That's a big stone to pick for a cross base though, you have to admit. He says I therefore leave my case in the hands of my readers, who, if they cannot accept my solution of the mystery, will, I feel sure, be tolerant. Ah if only there'd been the TMA Forum in those days. But no, you had to go and find a goose for a quill and boil up some ink, write it in your best handwriting and pop your exasperated response in the post. By which time you probably did feel quite tolerant. Ah they'd have loved the forum wouldn't they.
The farmhouse was built in 1847 by a John Moyle, whose descendants still occupy it. At the time the house was built the surrounding countryside was wild moorland, overgrown with furze and bracken, and this was cleared by Moyle to make the present Tolven Cross Farm. The two adjoining farms - Upper Tolven and Lower Tolven - were already in existence at the time Moyle commenced to reclaim his little corner of moorland.
When he built the house the Tolven Stone was lying flat upon the moor at the intersection of the roads, and a few feet only from the back wall of the house, and the old man was struck with the idea that by raising it up on one of his edges he would be spared the necessity of building some three yards of the wall separating a little patch of garden from the farmyard, or rather, a pathway from the farmyard to his back-door. This he did, and the stone stands today in the place where the old man put it.
John Moyle died thirty years ago, but his daughter-in-law, who lived in the same house with the old man for some years previous to his death, is still living there with her daughter and grandson, the latter farming the land attached to the house.
From 'What is the Men-an-tol?' by George J Beesley, in The Antiquary 8 (April 1912)
The first druidical remain which I shall mention, is called the Rocking-Stone, and two different views thereof are exhibited at No. 1 and 2 of the etched plate attending these remarks. From 'Druidical Remains in or near the Parish of Halifax in Yorkshire, discovered and explained by the Rev. John Watson, MAFSA and Rector of Stockport in Cheshire', read at the Society of Antiquaries, Nov. 21, 1771. (Archaeologia v.2).
It is situated so as to be a boundary mark between the two town-ships, Golcar and Slaighthwait in the parish of Huddresfield, on what is called Golcar-Hill, and gives the name of Hole-Stone Moor to the adjoining grounds.
The size of it is about ten feet and half long, nine feet four or five inches broad, and five feet three inches thick. It rests on so small a center, that at one particular point, a man may cause it to rock, though it has been damaged a little in this respect by some masons, who endeavoured to discover the principle on which so large a weight was made to move.
The grid reference is where the stone is marked on the 1880 map.
There is a local tradition that this stone once occupied a site other than that on which it now stands. It was said that up to about eighty years ago it stood at a rath near by known as the rath Feerwore. Some years ago Patrick Lyons who had been employed by the late Mr Dolphin of Turoe for 40 years a herd pointed out the exact spot was about 10 yards to the west of the rath called Feerwore where the stone once stood. Excavations were made there and some animal remains together with a cist were found. The contents of the cist are supposed to have been human remains indicating cremation and the animal remains a funeral feast.This is from the Schools Collection of the 1930s. The excavations are reported in the The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, v 14 (1944).
Does anyone know what's happened with the stone? Did it go to the museum? Did it come back again? Is it still in that bizarre shed? The poor thing deserves a bit of respect.
1930s schoolgirl Maura Cryan wrote so nicely and enthusiastically about this edifice for the National Folklore Collection's Schools project, I think it would be nice to reproduce her words here.
Situated on an eminence in the MacDermott's demesne, Clogher, is an old Fort or Fortification. From its location, the plan by which it is laid out, and the thickness of its surrounding walls, one comes to the conclusion that it must have at some time in early history being used for defence purposes. This fort is perfectly circular in shape having a very fine entrance about six feet wide. Enclosed by those walls which are about nine feet wide is a plot of ground about twenty perches in extent, which is uniformly raised to the centre; thereby having what might be termed a nice foot path all around by the inner base of its boundary walls.
There are three underground tunnels in this enclosed area. One, which is by far the longest, has both an entrance and an exit, with a distance of at least twenty yards between. To explore this tunnel a light is required as it leads for most of the way under the main wall. The other two tunnels have only one opening and might be best compared to fairly large sized rooms. One of the latter tunnels is in the enclosed area itself. The other has an entrance under the wall very convenient to the main entrance.
The walls which are about ten feet high have on the inside platform (part of the wall itself) about six feet from the ground which evidently goes to show it was used for defence although local history does not give us much information on the matter. Although another feature which creates the curiosity of the many sight-seers who annually visit it are the huge rocks perfectly placed in position some of them set as high as five or six feet from the ground.
To prove its antiquity, this relic of earlier days, was handed over years ago by its owner to the Royal Antiquarian Society for preservation. This body spent a large amount of money in putting the entire place in order: great care being taken to make no change in its original plan. To further protect from trespass or damage a substantial wire fence was placed around it leaving between the fence and its outer wall a four-foot wall for sight-seers to use. I understand during the time the Society was engaged in its reconstruction among things found were bones and some gold ornaments which were sent to Dublin for expert examination.
This fort is beautifully situated on the top of a hill whose sides being nicely wooded add greatly to its appearance.
Nighthawking - not a recent phenomena (since morons have always existed). I liked his restrained anger:
The hearths and benches of this interesting [hut] circle, which I left complete in the evening, were destroyed before 5.30 the next morning - no doubt by some of those who, fancying that no one could be foolish enough to dig unless he was finding treasure, haunted us during the whole summer, and destroyed much that would otherwise have been of permanent interest. One day I found they had removed the turf from another circle, for the sake of destroying the cooking-hole - a procedure that almost justifies language that would relight the fire.From the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall v13 (1895-8) - in an article by Thurstan Collins Peter.
Borlase's description from Naenia Cornubiae:
But the most interesting object in the parish of St. Keverne still remains to be described. It consists of a half natural, half artificial, dolmen or cromlech, situated on the estate of Grugith, on the Crowza downs, - a wild marshy tract, strewn with diallage rocks, each of them many tons in weight. In the locality it is known as the "Three Brothers of Grugith."
In the case of this monument, a natural rock in situ, 8 feet 8 inches long by six feet broad, and 2 feet 6 inches high, has been selected as the side-stone of the cromlech. At a distance of 2 feet 3 inches from it, and parallel to its northern side, a second stone 7 feet 4 inches long, and averaging from six to eighteen inches broad, has been set up on edge. A third stone, measuring 8 feet 3 inches by 5 feet 3 inches, has then been laid across the two.
A Kist-Vaen, open at the ends, has thus been formed, 2 feet 3 inches deep, i.e. from the under side of the covering stone to the natural surface of the ground around it. Having obtained permission from Lord Falmouth to search the sepulchral monuments on his property in this district, the author caused a pit to be sunk between the supporters of the 'Quoit.' Nothing, however, was discovered besides a small flint chip, and the fact that a similar pit had been sunk in the same spot to a depth of four feet from the surface, previous to the erection of the structure. This was, doubtless, a grave like that at Lanyon, which, if it had not been subsequently disturbed, had, at all events, lost all trace of its ancient occupant.
Just a snippet from History, Gazetteer and Directory of Norfolk.. by William White (3rd ed, 1864):
At the side of the road, near the boundary of Stockton and Hales, is a large stone, weighing about two tons, called "Stockton Stone," and in the ancient Town Book, still preserved, is an entry, dated 1645, recording the payment of a small sum for "putting stulps to Stockton Stone."A stulp is a support or post. So it sounds like they were looking after it.
A fatiguing scramble, and the top of Carnanmore - 1,254 feet - is reached. As indicated by the name, this mountain has on its summit a "great carn," considerable remains of which are still to be seen. It is to be feared, however, that much of it has been erected into very matter-of-fact stone ditches, to mark the boundaries of "my Lord's" estate. The remaining portions are well worthy of examination. This is from the Annual Reports and Proceedings of the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club for 1879/80. You can see the NISMR here.
The northern side seems to have been partially removed, thus exposing a large chamber of unhewn stones; part of a covering of larger slabs still remains in position, while others lie scattered about. It is probable the carn was erected to commemorate some great victory, or mark the burial place of some powerful chief, whose name and deeds are alike long forgotten.
Though the carn is itself a monument of antiquity, one at least of the stones used in its construction belongs to a more distant period still. On its upper surface, but almost defaced by long exposure, are several cuplike depression, evidently of human workmanship. Were these the only marks upon the stone they might easily have been overlooked; but, on the under side of the slab, which can fortunately be seen by a person entering the chamber above referred to, many more perfect hollows, arranged in something like order, are quite perceptible. The present position of the stone is certainly not that which it occupied when the depressions were cut, as many of those on the under side are now entirely out of reach.
A.D. 901.Mention of Badbury in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 901 was a bit frantic. Winburn is called Wimborne today, and Twineham is Christchurch.
This year died Alfred, the son of Ethelwulf, six nights before the mass of All Saints. He was king over all the English nation, except that part that was under the power of the Danes. He held the government one year and a half less than thirty winters; and then Edward his son took to the government.
Then Prince Ethelwald, the son of his paternal uncle, rode against the towns of Winburn and of Twineham, without leave of the king and his council. Then rode the king with his army; so that he encamped the same night at Badbury near Winburn; and Ethelwald remained within the town with the men that were under him, and had all the gates shut upon him, saying, that he would either live or there die. But in the meantime he stole away in the night, and sought the army in Northumberland. The king gave orders to ride after him; but they were not able to overtake him. The Danes, however, received him as their king.
Leland came here in the 1530s:
Hene Dinas a quarter of a mile out of Oswestre north-west. The toune or castelle of Hene Dinas standith apon a rounde hillet aboute half a mile in cumpace. Ther be iii. greate diches in the botom of the hillet cumpasing it, and in the toppe of the hille now grow great treas of oke. The commune people say that ther was a cite withyn those ditches. I think rather a campe of men of war, wheras perventure was the campe when Penda and Oswaldes did fight. There is a nother hillet of caste yerth bytwixt it and Oswester not far from Dinas self.It always has to be about fighting when it comes to you men doesn't it. Or so it seems. The nother hillet I assume is the little wooded bump between the fort and Oswestry, on the line of Wat's Dyke. I'd have liked to have seen all the oke treas up there.
From John Leland's Itinerary In Wales.
On a rocky eminence in the townland of Ballyvernish, about one mile from the village of Doagh, stands a whinstone slab, called the Holestone. This stone is upwards of five feet in height above the ground, and near the base six feet eight inches in circumference, and ten inches in thickness. At about three feet from the ground there is a round hole perforated through it, sufficient to admit a common-sized hand; it has evidently been made by art, but there is neither record nor tradition respecting the purpose for which it was erected, nor by whom.From The Dublin Penny Journal, April 20th, 1833.
About thirty years ago a man put his hand through the aperture of this stone, but was unable to extricate it; on which, those who were with him gave the alarm, and a crowd was soon collected, whose conflicting opinions only served to increase the fears of the person in limbo.
Amongst those assembled, was a Mr. O---, a resident in the neighbourhood, who seeing so much needless alarm, determined to be a little waggish upon this occasion. "Fly," said he, to a by-stander, "for my powder-horn, and I'll soon free him; I'll blow up the stone in an instant!" At these words, the confusion and alarm of the multitude beggars all description, while the cries of the prisoner, which had hitherto been sunk in the noise, became piercing in the extreme.
During the confusion, the gentleman had sent off privately for some vinegar, and on the return of the messenger, with it, he began to pacify the prisoner, and to bathe his hand, which had become swelled in the various attempts made to get it extricated; and he at length succeeded in effecting his liberation, without application to the dreaded powder horn. [..]
Interesting that there's no mention of any betrothal traditions - in fact quite the opposite!
A visit to the stones two hundred years ago. The superstitious may want to infer something from the horse's reticence. But I think we need a proper experiment with a range of horses and control stones before we leap to any conclusions.
It will gratify any person, who, from a motive of curiosity, can turn a little aside (about a quarter of a mile,) from the thoroughfare of business, to see a CROMLECH, or stone of worship, on the right hand of the road leading from Belfast to Newtownards, at a place called Green-Graves, and about a mile and a half from Dundonald, (so named, probably, from the sepulchral mount adjacent, the mount of Donald, a chieftain resting under it). From The Belfast Monthly Magazine, August 1812.
This Cromlech, consisting of one large rock, supported on five others, smaller in size, two in front, of a wedge shape at top, and a third lying across the remaining two, upon which, and the two front supporters, the great stone majestically reposes, in an inclined position, as is generally the case, in this druidical monument.
Though perhaps not the largest of many to be seen in different parts of Ireland, it certainly, on a near approach to it, has a respectable, not to say a sublime, aspect; particularly when accompanied with the ideas of great antiquity, great power in the construction, and a great obscurity respecting its original destination.
My Rozinante, who thinks as little of the past as he does of the future, and is now come to a time of life when he can no longer boast of any nice sensibilities, no sooner came within sight of the sloping stone, than, by pricking up his ears, and a sudden start, he roundly declared, that he had never met with such a thing in the whole course of his life; nor could my repeated assurances, that it was nothing but a stone, (such as Fin Mac Coul might have worn in his ring,) induce him to cross an imaginary circle, which kept him at an awful and admiring distance.
The Duke de Vendomes used to say, that in all the disputes he had seen between the mule and the muleteer, and he had seen many hundreds, the mule was always right in the argument, and his driver in the wrong. In the present instance, I confess, I thought my beast was entirely and obstinately in the wrong, but I conceded the point to him, and allowed him to graze at the distance he thought most agreeable. [...]
For many, many years past, hundreds of Wiltshire people, and even strangers to the county, have made a pilgrimage to Stonehenge to see the sun rise on the 'longest day,' when, standing on the supposed 'altar stone,' the sun, immediately on rising, appears over the apex of the large 'lion stone,' which stands at a considerable distance from the outer circle on the Amesbury road. Just to demonstrate that nothing much changes. Notes and Queries (1882) s6-VI (132): 26.
Scores of persons started from Salisbury in vehicles of various kinds on Tuesday night; others 'tramped' it to and fro - eight miles each way - and slept beneath a rag under the shelter of the magic stones. Up to midnight the sky was bright and clear, and then a heavy mist and lowering clouds appeared, the result being that the 'pilgrims' - many of them footsore and weary - returned home to be heartily laughed at.
The above appeared in the Western Gazette of June 23, and is worthy of a nook in your columns.
H. Glover Rayner. Southampton.
The cave was visited by Dr Samuel Johnson.
Reynard's Hall is a cave very high in the rock; it goes backward several yards, perhaps eight. To the left is a small opening, through which I crept, and found another cavern, perhaps four yards square; at the back was a breach yet smaller, which I could not easily have entered, and, wanting light, did not inspect.From A diary of a journey into North Wales, in the year 1774.
I was in a cave yet higher, called Reynard's Kitchen. There is a rock called the Church, in which I saw no resemblance that could justify the name.
The Rev. J. N. Harrison says, that whilst some quarrymen were digging for limestone on the northern top of Coygan hill, they came upon a kind of cell, scooped out in the solid rock, in which was the skeleton of a man lying on his side, with the head to the north, the knees being doubled up so as to allow the body to occupy so short a space. The cell measured 4ft. 6ins. long by 2ft. 6ins. wide by 2ft. deep, and was covered by a large "clegger" stone, almost circular, 5 ft. in diameter, and from 10 to 11 ins. thick. The top of the covering stone was about 1ft. below the surface of the ground, and round the edges of it was a kind of dry-built wall.From 'Two Kelto-Roman Finds in Wales' by J. Romilly Allen, in Archaeologia Cambrensis Sixth Series, volume 1 (1901).
The Coygan hill rises abruptly from about the centre of the marsh, and juts out into it so as to form a nearly isolated promontory of limestone rock. It lies a mile and a half south-west of Laugharne. From the summit a magnificent view is obtained of the Bristol Channel. Very nearly on top of the rock is the well-known Coygan bone-cave, concerning which the following facts have not before been made public.
More than thirty years ago, when I was only just out of my teens, I heard my late father, Mr. George Baugh Allen, relate an incident which took place on the occasion of a picnic party visiting the Coygan cave. The entrance to the cave is so low and narrow that it is necessary for anyone to crawl on their hands and knees who wishes to gain access to the interior. A fat lady, who formed one of the party, succeeded getting half of her body through the opening, but then stuck fast: the result being that she had to be hauled backwards by her legs, amidst the laughter of gods and men.
Just about the time when I heard this story, prehistoric man and his co-existence with extinct animals was being much discussed, and it occurred to me that it might be worth while visiting the Coygan Cave in order to ascertain whether it was a hyaena-den. I did so, accordingly, on the first opportunity; and when I entered I saw, to my great delight, that the surface of the cave was strewn with the bones of extinct mammalia, which, if any previous visitor had noticed, he had not thought them worth while carrying away. The bones obtained by me on this and many subsequent occasions, in company of the late Dr. Henry Hicks, F.R.S., were presented to the Rugby School Museum. Mr. Edward Laws, who has collected bones from the Coygan Cave, found a Palaeolithic flint implement associated with them. The bones and flint implement are now in the Tenby Museum.
Note on a Dolmen at Stoke Bishop. By M. H. Scott.From the Proceedings of the Bath Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club, v10 (1905), p318. Druids. Don't let them spoil your lawn.
(Read February 10th, 1904.)
This monument stands to the left of the entrance gate of Druids' Stoke, and just inside the grounds. I quote Seyer's description [...] [Memoirs Historical and Topographical of Bristol and its Neighbourhood, Rev. Samuel Seyer, M.A., 1821, v1, p103].
"It consists of one large stone, and three small. The large stone is 10 1/2 (feet) in length, 2 1/2 thick, and 5 1/2 at the broadest. It has been thrown down, and having fallen on one of the smaller stones, which stood beneath, it partly rests upon it, and is prevented from lying flat on the ground, so that at first sight it appears a cromlech (i.e. dolmen) or altar stone.
Of the three smaller stones, the first has already been mentioned, as supporting the great stone; it is about three feet above the ground. Another lies close to it westward, and the third a few feet distant north-westward: the two last are broken off close to the ground, they may be fragments separated when the great stone fell down. That which was its northern or north-eastern face when it stood upright, which now lies nearest to the ground, is tolerably smooth, and of the natural colour of the stone; all other parts are eaten into deep holes by the action of the weather, and are slightly covered with moss, and the colour is dark and dirty.
The stone is a millstone grit, or breccia, and was probably brought from the foot of Kingsweston Hill, about a mile distant, where numbers of the same sort, although not of equal size, still lie scattered on the ground, and many more were formerly to be seen, until Mr. F. collected them for the foundation of his house.'
Mr. Seyer, though he seems inclined to doubt that this erection was a dolmen, does not suggest any other theory, and his remark that the under side of the large stone is not weather worn is in favour of this stone having been the covering stone of a dolmen. The presence of three smaller stones is also in accordance with this. They are not so large as one would expect the supports of a dolmen to be, but it is possible that some fragments may have been carried away.
Miss Munro, whose father, William Munro, Esq., formerly owned Druids' Stoke, says:--
"In my recollection, once a year a body of men calling themselves Druids, with a Priest (?) dressed in wonderful garments, used to hold a service at the Druid's Stone."
On my asking at what time fo the year this occurred, she says:--
"I am almost sure that the Druids' ceremony took place in the spring before the grass was put up for mowing. I have a dim recollection that the Druids wished to have the ceremony later, but were told that they could not be allowed to tread down the growing grass, as they came in considerable numbers."
So long as Mr. Munro had the property, as also his successor, Mr. Wedmore, this monument was safe enough. But since the death of the latter, the property having failed to find a purchaser, has been put up in separate lots, and it is quite possible, as the stones are so near the road, that at no distant date the land may be sold for building, and the stones removed. I therefore place this note on record.
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This hill, it has a meaning that is very important for me, but it's not rational. It's beautiful, but when you look, there's nothing there. But I'd be a fool if I didn't listen to it.
-- Alan Garner.
...I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn...
-- William Wordsworth.
I'm currently mad on visiting Anglo-Saxon and Norman carvings and enjoy the process of drawing them:
and I've been helping digitise the Schools' Collection of the National Folklore Collection of Ireland... you can also at