The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

St. John's or Little John's Stone (destroyed)

Standing Stone / Menhir


The most important remains of prehistoric religion found in Leicestershire are probably the two monoliths known as the St. John's Stone, or Little John's Stone, and the Hostone, or Hellstone. The former was a pillar of sandstone, originally embedded in sand, which stood in a field near Leicester Abbey, called Johnstone Close.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century it was about 7 feet high, but by the year 1835 it had become reduced to about 3 feet. In 1874, according to the British Association's Report, it was about 2 feet high, and it has now completely disappeared.* A drawing of the stone, made by Mr. J. Flowers in 1815, has been reproduced in Kelly's Royal Progresses and Visits to Leicester.

A custom existed from time immemorial until last century of paying an annual visit to the St. John's Stone on St. John's Day, the 24th of June, when "a festival was formerly held there, a vestige of old fire or sun-worship."** Children who played about it were careful to leave before dark, for then, it was said, the fairies came to dance there. This superstition attests the religious significance of the monolith, for fairies, all the world over, continue in popular imagination to haunt ground which has once been sacred.

*British Association Report, 1874, p. 197. Mr. Warner, who lived at Leicester Abbey, said, however, that the stone had quite disappeared by the year 1840.
**British Association Report, 1878, p. 190.
From 'Memorials of Old Leicestershire' by Alice Dryden, 1911.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th February 2010ce

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