Directions - Great Urswick; the stone is built into the field wall on the opposite side of the road to the school.
Now broken and set into the base of the field wall, this stone once stood in the adjacent field. Named the Priapus Stone, it was village custom to decorate the stone at Midsummer in the hope that harvests would be fruitful.
There is no definite record of it being ancient but this custom apparently died out at the begining of the 19th century.
If it was complete it would be similar in size and shape to the Middle Barrow stone, less than half a mile from here. From this field you can see Great Urswick burial chamber.
A local woman showed it to us but said she believed it was medieval. I'd like to believe it predates this period by a few thousand years!!
Priapus hails from Greek mythology and represents procreation and fertility.
Local village custom suggests that the stone was decorated each Midsummer in the hope that fruitful procreation would be stimulated. This custom seemed to die out in the early part of the 19th century but the stone remained in the field until the 1920s.
A Furness Diary 1801-1807 published by The Countryman in 1958.......
"Friday, May 24th 1801. About 100yds to the West of Urswick Church in Furness in a field called Kirkflat, adjoining to the highway, stands a rough piece of unhewn limestone, which the Inhabitants of Urswick were accustomed to dress as a Figure of Priapus on Midsummer Day, besmearing it with Sheep Salve, Tar or Butter and covering it with rags of various Dyes, the Head ornamented with flowers."