Finding the church was easy enough (it is signposted off the B449) but the stone itself proved a little more elusive.
As it was Sunday morning a service was being held so we just about managed to park in the church car park. I walked up the path, past the church entrance, through a gate and into the graveyard.
It is a large graveyard with various info boards giving details of the Abbey which once stood there. Unfortunately there is no monition of the standing stone.
I looked through the trees, around the perimeter of the church and along the only hedge I could see. There was a lady tending a grave and I went for a chat to ask her if she knew where the stone was? She said she had never heard of it but seemed quite interested. We walked up and down and then realised the stone was on the other side of the hedge! I had pretty much walked past it when I first entered the graveyard.
The stone is a lot smaller than I was expecting – only about 0.5 metre square and very weather worn. The lady was also pleased to have seen the stone and went back to the grave. Worth a quick look when in the area but not worth travelling far for.
Directions: park in the church car park and take the path to the left of the church entrance. Then immediately turn right and walk to the (locked) metal gate. The stone is easily seen just in front of the hedge.
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.
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.