Standing stones: while very different from linear earthworks in form and scale, they share parallels in the British landscape in multiple regards:
- They are often lumped into one or two periods of British prehistory (in the case of standiing stones, the Neolithic or Bronze Age) or else float free without comment;
- they are difficult to date in contextual, stratigraphic and scientific terms;
- they are often located in isolation, disconnected from other archaeological sites, monuments and contexts which might afford a hint at their date and use.
Some might have originally been components of larger megalithic monuments of Neolithic or Bronze Age date, some may have been raised as isolated monoliths raised in those periods or later. As such, they are surely only a selection of those that once existed: many more have since been removed a various times based on practical or ideological motives. As enigmatic mute monumental presences in the landscape, they may on occasions have been reused and recontextualised through translation, naming and/or carving or sculpting in early historic periods and thus acquire life-histories of use and significance. Others remain simply unnamed and unelaborated monoliths.
The Carreg y Big standing stone (Shropshire), lies just to the east of Offa’s Dyke. At c. 2m tall, this squat and leaning stone is variously dated to the Bronze Age or early medieval period, the latter for perhaps no other good reason than its broad proximity to the famous linear earthwork (this is the determination of the Selattyn Tower interpretation panel).
There has been no modern excavation and no conclusive dating evidence for this monolith to my knowledge.
Field boundaries rob it of any sense of its pre-modern context. Indeed, distracted by cute lambs and their fluffy ewes, I didn’t see it at first as I crossed the field via a public footpath. It lurks incongruously beside the hedge.
However, once located in open country, as this most assuredly was before the 19th century, it might have been positioned to mark a boundary close to a routeway now enshrined in the lane running over higher ground between watersheds and the historic settlements of Selattyn and Rhydycroesau.
Sadly, the monument hasn’t attracted antiquarian interest, unlike the Selattyn ring cairn to the north.
I wanted to share photographs of the stone – peppered with light snow earlier this year. Some I’ve enhanced through various filters in Photoshop in orer to celebrate its sad incongruity and silent beauty.
I love the narrow quartz vein running through it, which I’ve attempted to enhance in my photographs.
For more conventional photographs, check out the Megalithic Portal.
You know what? I think in over 8 years, it might be the first time that I’ve posted about a presumed prehistoric standing stone on this blog! It is indeed a big stone!
Dear Professor Williams I have tied to leave a comment on you site, as follows. However, I have wasted over an hour trying to log in to it to post it, and Word Press is saying that I have only one login password for every WordPress site – I have three myself, and won’t let me log in. Honestly, I am tired of the exploitative nature of these giant American Coporations and there relentless demands that they control you life by interlinking everything you do together, and, as now, refusing access if you do not agree to receive advertising, cookies and spam. As I cannot log in and be active, please unsubscribe me. Meanwhile, here is the comment I couldn’t leave no matter how hard I tried. Photo 1, for those like me who have a propensity to see faces everywhere (see studies about anxiety and its role in preserving animal communities, and in the case of humans, detecting, from the corner of your eye, a face, perhaps a hunting lion in the bushes, that others don’t see), shows this rock is alive with images. Can you see a weird creature emerging from the “inside” of the rock with a beak like bill wide open, and in a hunched pose. Further looking shows a possible person, of Chinese demeanour, with their arm wrestling the head of this creature. Photo 4 shows vry clearly the eyes and wide mouth of a Grouper Fish, not something that natives of Shropshire are likely to have seen, and photo 6, clearest of all, shows, at the top the head of a horse or more likely, because it has curved back horns, a ram, whilst underneath it, extending to the ground is the face of a man with a beard and moustache, two close set eyes, a clearly projecting ear, and a curly hair style. The nose and mouth are also very marked. Between the man and the Ram, can also be made out a fish, which can be dissolved into the Ram, or remain separate. If you can’t see them, in my experience, you will be lost to understand, but many will be able to. For claity, I am not saying that these images have been carved on the stone, but that, for some, the stone allows those perceptions. If you can see them in a world with less stimuli than our noisy society, I feel some persons would have tried to “understand” these invisible visions, and seen them as expressions of something otherworldly, perhaps. And that may be the reason for their erection.
Rod CoxWork: Thompson Cox Partnership,1 City Walls, Chester CH1 2JGProperty Development, Investment, Management