|This single menhir stands against a hedge at the back of Eynsham's catholic church, once the site of a flourishing Benedictine abbey.
The stone was found by Oxford Archaeology (OA) who were excavating the site (in 1989-92) of the abbey enclosure which had been built over a much earlier Bronze Age one.
The very rich ancient archaeological landscape around Eynsham (including the Devil's Quoits stone circle just 3 miles away; the now trashed Tarr's Grave close to the A40 and large circular crop marks in fields around the village) means the ditch in which OA found the stone may have been part of a thriving early settlement.
The stone was re-erected in its current position thanks to the then priest John Tolkein (nephew of JRR) who offered it a safe haven in church land next to the graveyard.
It is of oolitic limestone, the same kind of stone used to build the Rollrights and many other monuments in Oxfordshire. And looks to be weathered in the same way.
There's more information in 'Aelfric's Abbey: excavations at Eynsham Abbey, Oxfordshire', 1989-92, by Alan Hardy, Anne Dodd and Graham D Keevil.
This stone is marked 'of disputed antiquity' because it's not in its original position and just because it was found in a Bronze Age ditch doesn't actually mean it was a standing stone of that period, even though its discovery, size and weathering all point to an ancient provenance.
Posted by Jane
8th June 2008ce
Edited 2nd July 2008ce