After confirming the position of the ‘Lang Stone’ from COFLEIN I optimistically set off in search of the stone. I could tell from the map that the stone was on private land with no public right of way. There were two possible ways of approach.
The easiest way appeared to be via Underwood Leisure Centre (see notes for Stockwood Barrow). I crossed the field containing the Barrow and headed north towards the trees. It should have then been an easy walk across the next field to the field containing the stone. Problem – the field in question was being ploughed by the farmer and clearly there was no way of getting past him without being spotted.
I retraced my steps back to the Leisure Centre and went for plan B.
Plan B involved taking the minor road south off the A48 (in Langstone) which runs under the motorway and past Langstone Court. As I drove past Langstone Court (posh) things didn’t look promising. Signs stated ‘private’ and ‘warning – guard dogs’ were accompanied by several CCTV cameras. We carried on down the road to the pretty church where there was just enough room to pull in next to the gate.
A public right of way runs through the graveyard and around the back of Langstone Court. Unfortunately this is only part way to where the Lang Stone resides.
Luckily there are high hedges at this point and keeping to the hedgerows as much as possible I headed east across a couple of fallow fields. Again luck was on my side as there were gaps in the hedges giving easy access between the fields. After walking up the brow of a hill (right next to the motorway) I looked through the hedge to my right and spotted the elusive Lang Stone.
The field had recently been ploughed (no doubt by the same farmer I saw earlier) and I quickly walked over to the stone. To be honest it was all a bit of a disappointment. It is now no more than a squarish block of conglomerate stone approximately 1.5m across. Several small stones appeared to be lying underneath it.
At this point my luck ran out. I looked up and saw the farmer I saw earlier, in his tractor, who had stopped and was looking at me. We looked at each other for a couple of minutes and he started his tractor back up. I thought ‘here we go’ and waited for him to drive towards me. To my surprise he turned around and carried on ploughing the next field. Still, best I go I thought.
I quickly headed back the way I came and as I was about to go through I gap between fields I heard the rumble of a tractor. I looked across and saw a different tractor heading towards me. In a flash I backed through the gap and went the only way I could without being seen – through a small boggy area covered in brambles. I battled my way through and managed to get back to the hedgerow just as the tractor slowly made its way the other side. I crouched down as the tractor carried on. The tractor driver was clearly looking for something (me probably!) as it turned and headed back towards me. I scampered along the hedgerow and thankfully got back onto the public footpath without being stopped. Back through the church yard, into the car, and away as quickly as possible.
It probably sounds quite funny now but it was an unpleasant experience at the time.
I should have felt a sense of achievement of seeing the stone but all I felt was relief.
All in all, was it worth it?
I would have to say no. The stone (if it is prehistoric) is not much to look at and given the apparent lack of a ‘warm welcome’ to visitors I wouldn’t recommend a visit.
If you do intend having a look at the stone yourself I would recommend either asking for permission first (not sure how successful that would be?) or approach via Underwood. This would be a more direct route and (as long as no farmers are about) give easier access.
‘A slightly trapezoidal conglomerate block measuring 1.5m by 1.25m and 0.65m thick. Is located in a slight hollow on a low local summit. If once upright and larger, the rest of it has been removed’.
Saw this in an article in the April issue of the Caerleon Community Times magazine
Extract from an article published many years ago entitled ‘Old Tracks of Gwent – 4’
‘A ‘Lang Stone’ which would not be removed. By Mr F J Hando’.
‘The name Langstone is Saxon but where, you may ask, is the lang stone?
A path leaves Langstone Court eastwards and disappears in the field. Continue in the same direction and you will see in front of you an apparent line of bushes which is actually a remnant of a prehistoric track, deep in the heart of a modern field. Canopied by bushes, wide, deep, mysterious, it covers the length of a football field, and then disappears. But if you persist in its direction you will find, in a field topping the next ridge ‘stoney field’ a great stone, shaped roughly like a bishop’s mitre.
A few years ago it was decided to aid the ploughman by removing the stone. A farmhand who was present on that occasion tells me that every available horse and man was pressed into service. A chain was fastened to the stone. Horses and men engaged in a great ‘heave’, yet the old landmark won! To what depth is it sunk? Sufficient you will agree to justify my contention that this is the ‘Lang Stone’.
Coflein calls this 'Lang Stone, Former Monolith', which is a bit mean. The rest of the notes are as follows:
"The stone has the appearance of being broken through & before a portion was detached may have been a standing stone. The stone is mentioned in a 10th C document. condition=Near Intact
A slightly trapezoidal conglomerate block measuring 1.5m (E-W) by 1.25m and 0.65m thick is located in a slight hollow (= ?attempts at removal) on a low, local summit. If once upright and larger the rest of it has been removed.