On the southern verge of the busy A3052 at the junction with the minor road turning south to Branscombe. You can pull in on the grass verge next to the stone for a quick visit.
The stone is very small but was easy enough to spot in the short grass. If the grass had not been cut for some time (must play havoc with the council grass cutters!) it could be difficult. A non-descript stone which would pass you by had you not been specifically looking out for it. Not one to go out of your way for.
This is a quick post to bring into your consciousness a much neglected and oft passed monolith.
Hangman's Stone is situated on the main road from Axminster to Exeter in Devon. Just past the turning to Seaton, it is situated on a grassy verge bank of the Hangman's Stone Crossroads.
Thousands of cars pass this lonely stone each day without even realising it is there (much of the year the grass is too high to make it out properly).
The hoary old Stone seems isolated on its crossroads with little sign of any associations in the modern landscape. However, a little research has discovered a long bank and ditch structure that has almost entirely been ploughed away.
Old maps show that the structure moved away from the stone in a northerly direction, and that the combination of bank, ditch and stone was called 'Norman's Grave'.
I could find no mention of any of this in the local library!
So next time you are driving in that area, keep a look out for this lonely old stone and make it feel like its not forgotten.
The name of Hangman's Stone is traditionally said to have been derived from the circumstance of a sheep-stealer's having seated himself upon the stone, with his booty, a live sheep, tied by the hind legs round his head. The sheep, finding a fulcrum, began to struggle, and the string which tied its legs slipped down to the man's neck and strangled him before he had power to extricate himself.
Ah yes, sheep were clever in those days, they could find a fulcrum, no problem.
Pulman also mentions the following folklore. The stone is right between Borcombe Farm and Gatcombe Farm - so if you're going to see the hounds anywhere.. though I admit it has 0 to do with the stone itself.
The secluded combes and lonely hills about Borcombe and Gatcombe are the scenes of numerous supernatural stories, and it is not many years since it was religiously believed by the peasantry that that 'country' was regularly hunted at night by a pack of 'Hell Hounds' whose breath was fire. Perhaps the smugglers [..] assisted, for the purposes of their own, in keeping alive the superstitious fears of the country people.
p56 and 63 in 'Local Nomenclature' by G Pulman (1853) - digitised at Google Books.