Access at farm on right of B3130 travelling east. It's just possible to park by the gate to the farm. Ask to see the 'stone'. They might snigger - the old chap painting the gate did when we asked! The stone (what there is to see!) lies on the farm side of the hedgerow to the east of the farmgate.
I emphasise this because the aforementioned 'old chap' didn't bother to point this out, letting us set off blithely down the roadside verge.... (I hope he did it out of cantankerousness, otherwise he was just annoyingly unhelpful!!!)
The ground may be a bit rough if you have trouble walking, but the stone is only about 100 feet (?) from the farmgate, next to the hedgerow under a tree.
Tuesday 16 September 2003
No dog in evidence today. Good job. Had no biscuits.
You will think 'is that it?' You almost certainly will think 'why did I bother?' But you'll probably also be glad you did. Me and my imagination were.
To confirm what Kammer says, I've read (can't remember where, other than Burl's mention) that the stone did, relatively recently, used to be bigger. Considerably bigger I believe.
Visited 21st June: After our early start to observe the Solstice, and visiting the well known Stanton Drew sites, we were all ready for breakfast. Before we left the area I insisted on seeing Hauteville's Quoit, so the others stayed in the car while I went to the farm (called Quoit Farm) to ask about the stone.
As soon as I went through the farmyard gate, a sheep dog starting barking at me from the direction of the farmhouse. Luckily there was a woman hanging up washing in the garden, so I didn't have to get past the dog to knock on the farmhouse door. She was very friendly, and gave me directions to the stone, warning me that there wasn't much to see.
The stone lies to the east of the farm buildings, and there certainly isn't much to see. Where Hauteville's Quoit once stood, there's now only a small amount of stone visible above the soil. It's hard to imagine this insignificant piece of rock as a large standing stone. It sits in the shadow of a tree, almost part of the hedgerow. Surely it's been chipped away at over the years for building material. If not, there must be a lot of stone under the ground.
Despite its size, I'm glad I made the effort to see it. With so little left to look at, you'll need to use a lot of imagination (and possibly take some dog biscuits) if you visit Hauteville's Quoit.
An earlier version of the story, from Aubrey's 1664 Monumenta Britannica (and quoted in Grinsell's 'Folklore of Stanton Drew').
The common people tell this incredible story, that Hakewell stood upon the top of Norton Hill, about half a mile off where the Coyte now lies, and coyted it down to this place; for which having the Manor of Norton given him, and thinking it too little, did give it the name of Norton Mal-reward which they pronounce small reward.
Which neatly explains the stone and the strangely named village in one fell swoop.
From 'The History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset' - three completely huge tomes forming a major achievement written by the Reverend John Collinson in the 1780s, before he died (exhausted, no doubt) in his early 30s.
"In the road lies an immense stone called Hautville's Coit (a name that has sustained for many ages) and is by tradition reported to have been thrown hither by that gigantick champion Sir John Hautville, from Mays-Knolle-Hill [Maes Knoll] upwards of a mile distant, the place of his abode. The tump on that hill is also affirmed to have been the cleanings of the same man's spade, and so confident are the common people of the reality of the manoevre, that a farmhouse erected of late years near the coit was distinguished by the title of Hautville's Coit Farm, which doubtless it will preserve until records are no more.
"This stone was formerly of a vast magnitude, being computed to have weighed upwards of 30 tons; but the waggon loads of fragments that have been broken from it at different times, for the purpose of mending the roads, have diminished its consequence as to bulk and appearance, though not as to antiquity or the design of its erection, for it was part of a very remarkable monument of antiquity, which has distinguished the parish for many ages and has diverted the steps of many a traveller... [ie, the circles at Stanton Drew]."
So, even the Reverend thought the stone ought to have been bigger, much bigger, at one point. Was it really ever 30 tons? Is it just a tall story (like the legend?) - or does its proximity to the road mean it was used for roadmending? Or is the fact that the story connects Stanton Drew with the prehistorically occupied Maes Knoll (a prominent hill from the circles) the most important thing?