Tucked away in the field just south of the mighty Durrington Walls henge a sarsen stone lies marooned amid a sea of grass.
If you’d visited the site a little over twenty years ago you’d have found it marooned amid arable crops – the field was under the plough. We bought it in 1995 and shortly afterwards, as part of our programme of turning ploughed fields into pasture in the Stonehenge Landscape, we returned it to grass. We do this both to protect the archaeology that lies buried and to benefit wildlife.
Nobody knows for sure how the stone got its name but what we do know is that its a sarsen stone – the same incredibly hard type of sandstone as the larger stone settings at Stonehenge. And excavations by the Stonehenge Riverside Project team a few years ago revealed not only that it had once stood upright as a standing stone but that it is one of the few naturally occurring sarsens of any significant size that we know of on Salisbury Plain.
The dig revealed the natural hollow (right by where the stone lies today) in which the stone originally lay and also the hole dug (sometime in the Neolithic or earlier part of the Bronze Age) into the chalk bedrock into which it had later been placed upright. Some time later it fell – leaving the stone as you see it today.
Today it remains the only prehistoric standing stone in the Stonehenge half of the World Heritage site that you can walk right up to and touch. It leads a lonely existence today but it once stood surrounded by other monuments – some of earth, some of timber, some of stone – but that’s a story for another day.