Trotted along to take a look at Long Tom today. A pleasant enough walk from Avebury, up to the Ridgeway, down across Fyfield Down along the old London-Bath road and up the other side.
Just before the reservoir, there's a notice on the right denoting a private racehorse training field. Nicely cut grass, and about 100 yards into the field can be seen Long Tom, with a much smaller partner on the other side of the 'racetrack'. Very much a 'finishing post'.
As to the stone iteself, it's very angular and clean cut. Very little evidence of the lichen that covers all other stones in the area. All in all, it looks too 'new' to be that ancient, even if it's thought to be Iron Age rather than neolithic. It looks very similar in condition to a small modern rubbing post I spotted in an adjacent field.
SU 14397128 "Long Tom". A finely-dressed sarsen monolith, 8 ft 3 in high with squared sides about one foot across, on the parish boundary. (1)
SU 14407127. The stone, in common with other boundary and standing stones in the neighbourhood, bears the marks of the steel wedges used to split it from a larger block, suggesting that it is of
recent date. (2) Scheduled, National Number 33951. (3)
4. On the bank marking the Fyfield-Preshute parish boundary, immediately north of its junction with track (F.4) is a finely dressed sarsen monolith, 8ft. 3in. high with squared sides c.1ft. across. Known locally as ' Long Tom '. 14397128.
Other standing sarsens in the area have apparently been used at least recently for stretching chains across race-horse gallops, and elsewhere there are several examples of both short lines of sarsens and single large sarsens beside tracks. They have apparently been so placed to act as guide stones over these relatively featureless downs.
Long Tom is an 8ft standing stone between the Mother's Jam and the (ex) Manton Round Barrow. As Julian Cope mentions in his book, only round here where there are so many archaeological sites could such a stone go largely unnoticed.
To be honest, its shape is a bit tall and thin compared to the other stones around here. It's been suggested by Terence Meaden that it replaced an older stone (hm). Celia Haddon (see link) pins its antiquity on the way it stands out above the skyline as you look from the next hill.
Celia says it's also known as 'Fred Archer's Winning Post' - because it's so close to the gallops on the Down.