Stones & Circles
A Standing Stone (also called a menhir, megalith, orthostat or lith) is a large stone set vertically into the ground. They are often difficult to date but pottery found underneath some suggest that most of the older ones were erected by the Beaker People, who lived between 2,800 to 1,800 BC.
It is likely that their purpose was the same as modern signposts. They are often adjacent to (or at junctions of) ancient tracks over the hills. Where they appear in groups, often in a circular, oval, or horseshoe formation, they are sometimes called megalithic monuments or henges. These are sites of ancient religious ceremonies, sometimes containing burial chambers.
In the Middle Ages, the standing stones were believed to have been built by giants. Many of them were destroyed or defaced by early Christians and it is estimated that some 50,000 megaliths once stood in Northern Europe, whereas now only 10,000 remain.
The earliest known circles were apparently erected during the Neolithic period (12,000-2,200 BC) and the larger ones like Avebury date from this time. The final phase of stone circle construction took place in the early to middle Bronze Age (2,200–1,500 BC) and these, although numerous, were much smaller structures. It has been suggested that these were built by individual family groups rather than the large numbers that monuments like Avebury would have required.
By 1,500 BC, stone circle construction had all but ceased. It is thought that changing weather patterns led people away from upland areas and that new religious thinking led to different ways of marking life and death.
Unlike some counties, not many stone circles have been identified in Shropshire. The largest and best known stone circle is at Mitchell’s Fold. The other is The Hoarstones nearby. The Whetstones is also nearby but just over the border in Powys. Three other possible stone circles are at Buxton Wood, Cefn Calanog and Robin Hood’s Chair.
Gazetteer of Sites
Betton, Market Drayton (SJ69193692)
Possible standing stone of probable Bronze Age date. A dressed sandstone pillar with a dowel hole 0.1m diameter and 0.1m deep in the top. The stone is roughly square in plan, 2m high x 0.5m diameter. It has been worn hollow all round for about 0.6m up from the ground level, probably by animals.
Bettws Hoar Stone, Llanllwyd (SO19528210)
A standing stone of unknown date. The Bettws Hoar Stone was moved from the Hoar Stone Field in 1888 and apparently laid at the door of Moor Hall farmhouse. “Thomas” is cut on one side and “066” on the other. The Hoar Stone has disappeared from Moor Hall and its present whereabouts are unknown.
Brook Vessons, Snailbeach (SJ38250086)
Possible fallen standing stone. Long stone lying flat on the ground, substantially cracked and surrounded by patches of rubble. 2.5m long x 1m wide x 0.5m high.
Burfield, Clun (SO25428006)
Possible site of a standing stone of unknown date. There is no stone now visible at this spot.
Buxton Wood, Tankerville (SO35559985)
Possible stone circle of Bronze Age date. Two stones and another on the hill at the edge of Buxton Wood. In the past, it was reported as being a circle of 26 stones, 7.9m in diameter on either side of the path. No trace of the circle today but there are two small moss covered stone field clearance heaps and there is one boulder 0.4m across and 0.1m above ground.
Bwlch, Treflach (SJ2525)
Two stones located in this area :-
SJ25262591 - A "Stone" was marked here on the 1837 OS map. A site visit demonstrated that a probable standing stone existed within the same field but in a slightly different location to the original OS siting (SJ25262596). There is no stone now visible at this spot.
SJ25652538 - A "Stone" was marked here on the 1837 OS map. No trace of a stone was found in the area which falls on a narrow ridge occupied by a line of smallholdings, with pasture fields to either side.
Cantlin Stone, Anchor (SO203869)
In 1691, a pedlar called William Cantlin was found dead on Shadwell Hill. A stone was
placed on the spot where he died with the inscription “W.C. DECSED HERE
BURIED 1691 AT BETVS”. Apparently a dispute broke out about which of the
surrounding parishes should pay for his pauper's burial. Finally the vicar at
Bettws-y-Crwyn took pity
and laid poor William to rest in his churchyard. Recent research in the
parish records show that a William Cantrell was buried at the church on 17th
January 1691 so how it became known as the Cantlin
stone is a mystery. In 1858, local MP Beriah Botfield placed a large celtic
cross near the site to commemorate the incident and the Cantlin
Stone was placed at the base of the cross to act as a boundary stone between
the parishes of Betws and Clun. The Botfield cross fell over in a storm and broke in two and
was replaced by a replica in 1997. The pieces of the original cross can now
be seen in Betws churchyard.
Carreg-y-Big, Selattyn (SJ25623289)
Standing Stone comprising a large limestone block 2m high x 1.2m wide x 1m deep, leaning to the west. Livestock erosion has exposed stones apparently packed around base. Alternatively, they may be the result of stone clearance from field in the corner of which the stone stands. It is possible that the stone's present flat-topped appearance is not original and it may have had a more rounded top which has cracked/weathered off. A stone fragment lying near the stone may fit. Occupies what must originally have been a conspicuous position midway up the south facing hill slope of a small valley.
Cefn Calanog, Churchtown (SO22258835)
Possible stone circle of probable Bronze Age date. At the head of the Lower Short Ditch near Keven Kaelynog, there is a circle of stones.
Clun Hoar Stone, Hobarris (SO31357829)
Possible standing stone of probable Bronze Age date. Located in Middleton's Dingle and made of Rhyader Grit, 1m x 0.8m. The field was described as Hoarstone Field on the Tithe Map but no trace remains today.
Cockford Hall, Clun (SO28357985)
Possible standing stone of Bronze Age date. Large stone 2.5m x 2m x 1m.
Cow Stone, Stapeley (SO30859885)
Standing Stone (menhir) also known as the “Dead Cow”. Approximately 400 yards N.E. of Mitchell's Fold stone circle, beside the path leading from the circle to Stapeley Hill. In the 1920s, chippings were analysed from this stone, one from Mitchell's Fold and four from the Hoarstones stone circle, which lies just over one mile away to the N.E. They were all found to be of dolerite, a vein of which runs through the area. Two miles to the south was the Cwm Mawr dolerite stone axe factory.
Cynynion, Rhydycroesau (SJ24513040)
Standing stone of Bronze Age date. Large erect limestone block, 2m high x 1.2m wide x 0.8m deep, leaning to the North.
Druid’s Castle, Stapeley (SO30559815)
There is documentary evidence of three possible standing stones in the vicinity of a cottage near Mitchell's Fold. Two of them survived into the 19th century. One was a slab about 1.2m x 1.2m x 0.1m thick, facing S.E. and leaning slightly in that direction. In removing the stone around 1878, a small earthenware vessel, said to have had three handles, was found to contain ashes and bits of leather, all now lost. The other was a narrower stone which supported a dry wall about 6m from the other stone. It was taken away some years after the other stone was removed but nothing was found beneath it. The cottage is called "Druid’s Circle" locally or the "Druid’s Castle". The cottage is now deserted and no traces of stones can be found.
Ellerdine Heath (SJ61842216)
A standing stone was raised to its present upright position upon the highest point of a drumlin by human action but the stone itself was carried from the Arenig region by ice action. The stone stands 1.6m x 0.8m x 0.8m. The upper part is pyramidal and shows little sign of natural weathering, suggesting that the stone was raised in recent rather than early times, possibly for a cattle rubbing post. No packing stones were noted.
Fairy Stone, Twitchen (SO37257955)
Possible standing stone of unknown date. It is made of Rhayader Grit and is 1.3m x 1m x 0.7m. It may be a natural glacial erratic.
Fiddler’s Elbow, Clun (SO32007865)
Possible fallen standing stone. On the north side of the quarry track is a recumbent megalith in the heather. The land to the north of the quarry track was afforested some years ago.
Gallowstree Bank, Oswestry (SJ30382877)
A "Stone" was marked here on an old OS map. In 1981 there was a horseshoe shaped depression at the site, with modern building debris just outside its northern side.
Gareg Clwd, Oswestry (SJ29772903)
A standing stone that was marked on an old OS map but destroyed in 1922. Perhaps one of the ones mentioned by Catherall as one of three stones traditionally hurled by giants in Selattyn. One fell in Swan Hollow, the second at a moderate distance from the town, on the left of the Shrewsbury road measuring 2.1m high and 3.6m in circumference, and a third a quarter of a mile further on.
Giant’s Shaft, Burwarton (SO595866)
Possible fallen standing stone 2.75m x 0.7m tapering to 0.5m wide within heavily quarried hill fort.
Great Boundary Stone, Clun (SO26487950)
Possible standing stone of Bronze Age date but could also be a natural feature or a boundary marker. An erratic block carried by ice from near Machynlleth. The location is a hedge line on the parish boundary with post and wire fence but there is no stone in the area.
Great Hagley, Bedstone (SO343767)
A very large granite stone on a prominent hilltop position, set in concrete. It is not listed on any archaeological database and, given this plus the use of non-local stone, its antiquity seems questionable.
Haughmond Hill, Uffington (SJ54271343)
Possible hengiform monument of prehistoric date. Circular arrangement of 11 pits, each 2 paces apart, with central pit. Diameter 7 paces. To the East were 2 more pits aligned North-South. Visible during dry weather in Summer 1979.
Heartstone, Clun (SO27827956)
Fallen standing stone of probable Bronze Age date. Measures 2.4m long x 2.1m wide x 0.9m thick. A straight ditch runs past this stone to the summit of the hill. Stands at the intersection of what are believed to be ancient tracks leading N.E. to Weston and Pontylinks Menhir and S.E. to Camp Field and Penywern Circle, S.W. to Camp and N.W. to Spring Hill ridgeway through to Kerry Hill Stone Circle.
Heath Mynd, Hyssington (SO33569408)
cairn surmounted by a ring cairn, situated upon the highest part of Heath in
open moorland. The platform cairn measures 20.5m in diameter and stands 0.7m
above present ground level. It is composed of mixed large and small stones,
the stones having been scooped out to make sheep shelters in recent
Standing stone of Bronze Age date. Field names on Tithe Map were “War Stone Piece” (SJ65401192), “Hare Stone Piece” (SJ65371207) and “Hoare Stone” (SJ65351220). Area now built over.
Hoarstones, Hemford (SO32459995)
Late Neolithic or Bronze Age stone circle, with two associated Bronze Age cairns. The circle includes 38 dolerite stones arranged in a circle with a diameter of 22m. The stones range in height from just protruding through the turf to 0.9m high. A single large boulder 1.2m high stands in the centre of the circle surrounded by a slight hollow 2m in diameter and 0.lm deep. The interior of the circle appears to be raised slightly, up to 0.1m, above the surrounding natural ground level. To the north of the circle are two small round cairns; the more westerly lies approximately 30m from the centre of the circle, the more easterly 32m. Both are visible as low earth and stone mounds 5m in diameter and up to 0.3m high. Although no longer visible as a surface feature each cairn will be surrounded by a ditch lm wide from which material for the construction of the mound would have been quarried.
Standing stone of Bronze Age date. A large stone was lying in a hedge but stood formerly in the middle of the field, which was much subdivided at the time of the Tithe Map. Possibly marked the place where the Welsh and English held their market. Mr C Jobson said that his mother remembered it as a long flat stone lying in a hedge bank, partially exposed at the bottom of the lane now called Cope's Lane. It was known as the Barter Stone and she recalls her father saying that it had been removed in the 1930s and taken to Oakley Hall to be placed in the garden. That might explain why no trace of it can be found now.
Hoarstone, Clun (SO26757995)
Standing stone of unknown date, may be a boundary marker. The location is centred on a hedge line, at the top of a short North-facing slope to a little stream valley, between pasture fields. There is no stone visible within either field.
Hoarstone, Knockin Heath (SJ36542166)
Possible standing stone of probable Bronze Age date. An unshaped boulder of blue grey stone, almost completely buried in sand and vegetation in the south side of the hedge. The visible portion is 1.5m wide and protrudes 0.7m above ground level.
Hope Bowdler, Church Stretton (SO47779389)
Scheduled Monument. Round cairn situated on the South-East side of the saddle below the North-East slopes of Hope Bowdler Hill. It is 8.5m in diameter and has a maximum height of 0.2m. Stone from the cairn has been used to construct a small circular sheep shelter over the centre of the cairn. On the North side of the shelter the ground between it and the rim of the cairn is clear of stone and under turf. This may be due to robbing but the possibility of it being a ring cairn cannot be ignored. The rim, or band of stone on this side is 1.5m wide.
Hopton Castle, Clungunford (SO36297883)
Possible standing stone. At least 15 flints have been found at this location, some of them around a large stone which was accordingly suggested to be a fallen standing stone. They include a lozenge arrowhead, a triangular arrowhead with rudimentary barbs and tang, and a small scraper. No standing stone can be found in this field.
Llanfair Waterdine, Clun (SO25857965)
Possible standing stone of Bronze Age date. Probably an erratic block carried from Machynlleth by ice. It is 2.3m long and deeply buried in the ground, from which one end rises 0.7m. The location is upon the top of a hill at 1,300ft OD but there is no trace of any stone.
Lord’s Stone, Hopesgate (SJ33470207)
An erratic granite boulder measuring 1.5m by 1m, and 0.6m in depth, set into the roadside bank. Was previously called the “Devil’s Stone”, from a rough impression on the top of the boulder which is said to be the print of the Devil. The local priest did not like this so re-named it.
Maes-y-Clawdd, Oswestry (SJ30212854)
Shown as “Stone” on 1874 and 1888 OS maps. The site is now built over and occupied by the Maes y Clawdd Industrial Estate.
Mere Stone, Titterstone (SO59957755)
Standing stone of probable Bronze Age date. No trace remains today.
Middleton Hall, Priest Weston (SO297989)
A standing stone was reported to be In the grounds of Middleton Hall Farm, to the North of a track and West of Mitchell's Fold. There is now no trace.
Middleton Road, Oswestry (SJ29382947)
Possible standing stone of unknown date. A large boulder recorded in the garden of what was 29, Middleton Road, Oswestry by Mrs June McCarthy in September 1999. The owner of the house said that it had been dug up by workmen installing a sewer. Another large boulder was exposed in 1970 during demolition in Gate Street. It is possible that it was once been a standing stone buried during the construction of the railway, in which case it is twice removed from its original location.
Late Neolithic/Bronze Age stone circle. Some damage done to the site by wheeled traffic and two stones were uprooted in an act of vandalism in 1994. The monument includes Mitchell's Fold stone circle (also known as Medjices Fold and Madges Pinfold) an outlier standing stone, a cairn base, portions of two field banks and a sample area of ridge and furrow. The circle is situated in a high saddle between Stapeley Hill to the north and Corndon Hill to the south with spectacular views to the west. It comprises 15 stones arranged to form a rough circle with dimensions of 30m north west to south east by 27m north east to south west. The stones are believed to have been brought from Stapeley Hill to the north west and are of a uniform geology. The majority protrude through the turf to an average height of 0.4m; two stones lie recumbent while three stones are appreciably taller than the rest standing to heights of 0.9m, 1.4m and 1.7m. Probing with an auger suggests that there may be a central stone in situ below the turf. The circle lies on the line of the south west to north east ridgeway which follows the spine of Stapeley Hill and is said to represent the old coach route from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth. Turfed-over linear striations which cross the interior of the circle on this alignment may represent old cart or coach ruts.
Montford Bridge, Shrewsbury (SJ42551555)
The crop mark of a circular enclosure was observed here during aerial reconnaissance. There is a double ditched circular enclosure, much larger than Stonehenge, and it is possibly a henge. It was along the route of the A5/A49 Shrewsbury By-Pass so it is not known if it survived.
More, Lydham (SO34329155)
Possible standing stone of unknown date. Stone laid lengthwise and built into a wall, 1.5m long and 0.7m wide. Above ground shape suggests a megalith.
A well-defined, extremely regular semi-circular crop mark of 50m diameter. The enclosure ditch is very well-defined and unusually broad. The regularity of form and breadth of the ditch in this enclosure suggest a Neolithic or Early Bronze Age ceremonial enclosure, perhaps even a henge. The crop mark is bisected by a wooded field boundary and its presumed continuation of the crop mark in fields to the east is not visible. It was along the route of the A5T Nescliffe By-Pass so it is not known if it survived.
Park Issa, Whittington (SJ31753176)
Possible standing stone of unknown date. Stands 1.5m high and leans to N.W. Base measurements: SE face 0.83m; NE face 0.6m; NW face 0.8m; SW face 0.6m. The stone is a block of old red sandstone and carboniferous limestone with quartz inclusions. It is roughly rectangular in shape. Letters have been carved near the top of the stone in modern times. Marked on the old OS map as “Stone” but does not appear on modern maps. The Tithe Map of Whittington Parish of 1839 names the field containing this stone as “Stone Field'. There is also a field called “Carn Field” nearby. It stands in pasture land close to which a possible Bronze Age ring ditch had been found.
Pen-y-Wern, Clun (SO31357885)
Good example of a ring cairn, a relatively rare kind of upland Bronze Age monument usually associated with burial rituals. The monument includes a ring cairn situated on the rounded summit of Pen-y-Wern Hill. The ring cairn survives as a flat-topped circular mound 30m in diameter and up to 0.9m high. The mound is irregular and hummocky over much of its upper surface and a shallow hollow 5m in diameter and 0.3m deep lies south west of its centre. Around the perimeter of the mound are 11 kerb stones, the largest with dimensions of 0.8m by 0.4m. Other stones scattered across the surface of the mound are loose and have probably been disturbed from the cairn edge. Although no longer visible as a surface feature a ditch will surround the mound with an estimated width of 2m. An associated stone (SO31417869) was formerly standing upright. It measures 2.3m long by 0.8m wide and has a minimum depth of 0.5m. There is another standing stone (SO31447879) of Bronze Age date, now recumbent and removed from original location to present position in same field. It is made of conglomerate (pudding stone) glacial erratic and lies alongside a hedgerow. It is 1.8m long x 0.6m wide x 0.5m thick. There is evidence, in weathering at one end, that the stone was once in the erect position.
An alleged stone circle. In the centre of the field is a loose stone, with a further two larger stones out from the west field boundary.
Pipe Gate, Woore (SJ74124039)
A “Stone” shown on early OS map. No trace today.
Robin Hood’s Chair, Ruyton XI Towns (SJ37552325)
Possible stone circle of Bronze Age date. Originally consisted of a circle of upright stones, probably the remains of a cromlech. Three mounds in the vicinity of the Chair were thought to be either three round barrows or a long mound like those found on the ridges of some hill forts. It is shown as an oval mound on the 1837 OS map.
Rockhill, Clun (SO2978)
Several standing stones were located in this area :-
SO28377824 - Possible standing stone of Bronze Age date. Located on the south side of the road and measures 1.4m x 1.5m x 0.6m. It is a moss-covered glacial erratic of quartz conglomerate and is not in situ, being positioned over a roadside ditch.
SO29047921 - Possible megalith of Bronze Age date, lying recumbent.
SO29057935 - Possible megalith of Bronze Age date, lying recumbent immediately East of the road.
SO29147916 - Possible megalith of Bronze Age date, lying recumbent.
SO29157925 - Possible megalith of Bronze Age date, lying recumbent in the boundary hedge.
SO29207930 - Possible megalith of Bronze Age date, lying recumbent. Probably a glacial erratic but one face has been broken off subsequently.
SO29217921 - Possible megalith of Bronze Age date, lying recumbent.
SO29377851 - Fallen stone recumbent in hollow, 3m long x 1.2m wide and 1.2m of un-weathered surface shows the depth to which it was buried when erect.
SO29397850 - A bare patch of earth in an otherwise uniformly grassed hay field. It measures 2.5m x 1.5m, tapering to 0.6m and almost certainly is the site of the recumbent stone, of which there is now no trace. A few stones scattered around the site could have been used as packing stones.
SO29627858 - Standing stone (menhir) of Bronze Age date, recumbent in the centre of a hollow in a field.
SO29667881 - A large stone, probably part of a removed monolith, lies partly buried on the verge on the north side of the road. It is a glacially worn erratic of fine grey sandstone 0.7m x 0.6m x 0.3m. It has an irregularly shaped top.
SO29657885 - Standing stone of Bronze Age date, which was standing until the 19th century, now only fragments remain of the monolith between SO29357874 and SO29637879 on the southern grass roadside verge. Three large fragments of stone are on the verge at SO29457876, SO29527877 and SO29567878 but they do not appear to be part of the same stone so they cannot all be part of the destroyed monolith.
SO29687904 - Standing stone of Bronze Age date. It was buried about 1865 and stood about 23m from the pit hole in the field and in line with the gate. It was 4.2m long x 1.2m wide x 0.6m thick. It lay nearly on its side and interfered with ploughing so they dug holes until it sank of its own weight to 1m below the surface. A patch of poor vegetation marks its location.
SO29897873 - A hollow 20m across and 2.5m deep. It has served as a dump for tree roots and boulders. No stone was found. There may be some confusion with this and the stone at SO29397850. The descriptions of the two sound remarkably similar.
SO29937878 - A menhir recumbent in centre of hollow 46m across. It measures 3m long x 1.2m wide x 0.9m thick. Known locally as the Heart Stone.
A possible stone circle of Bronze Age date but may be just a natural circle of stones. Located upon a pasture covered ridge is a fortuitous arrangement of natural boulders and cleared stones which form a roughly circular pattern, 8m to 9m in diameter.
Stooping Stone, Clee Hill (SO60467704)
Possible standing stone of unknown date. May be a boundary stone of post medieval date as it marks the junction of several parishes.
Strefford, Wistanstow (SO44448590)
Crop mark of a single interrupted circular enclosure, 42m in diameter, with several pits to the N.E. of the enclosed area. Possibly a Neolithic Henge monument.
Swan Hollow, Oswestry (SJ29152992)
Standing stone that was linked to a tradition of giants living in Selattyn who threw three stones, one of which alighted in the Swan Hollow. The stone was removed when the land adjoining the Rope Walk was built over.
The Springs, Selattyn (SJ24873276)
Possible standing stone of probable Bronze Age date. A large block of limestone on the West side of the hedge bounding the lane to Llechchrydau, 450m N.W. of Careg-y-Big, is 2.5m long x 1.4m wide x 1m deep. It may be a glacial erratic.
The Temple, Weston Rhyn (SJ28043635)
Shown on OS map as Temple. A replica stone circle built as a folly about 1850-60 for the owner of The Quinta. Made out of limestone blocks and similar in plan to Stonehenge. Many of the uprights have drill-holes and the lintels are fixed by means of iron ties. The stone circle is partially ruinous but this may well have been the original intention.
The Whetstones, Priest Weston (SO30559765)
Strictly in Powys but located only metres away from the border with Shropshire. It was blown up in the 1860s and only a few collapsed stones remain. It is believed that it was once as extensive as the nearby Mitchell's Fold stone circle.
Crop mark showing a complete, sub circular enclosure, 13m in diameter and defined by a single ditch. It may be a henge monument.
Werntanglas, Newcastle-on-Clun (SO23418393)
Possible standing stone of unknown date. A vertically bedded stone, approximately 0.5m high x 0.1m x 0.4m wide. Probably a man-made boundary stone.
Whitcott Keysett, Clun (SO27648235)
Standing stone, probably prehistoric, which was once described as the finest standing stone in Shropshire but is now on its side and broken into several pieces. Originally 2.4m high x 1.5m wide x 0.3m thick, rammed into the ground with blocks of stone and gravel but overthrown and broken into two pieces in 1944. A recumbent standing stone 3m long and 2m wide. It is in poor condition, and is broken in two pieces.