We went one dark winter evening and tried to tiptoe around the graveyard by the light of nearby street lamps, only finding it after some 30 minutes searching around the wrong end of the church. Its in the west of the church yard, near the edge where the trees are. Diminutive but an interesting carving.
This is a small stone situated in the graveyard of St. Lukes Church in Formby, near Liverpool. This curiously inscribed and mysterious stone is roughly 18 inches in height and was moved from the old village green to its present location in 1879. Any information as to the stone's folklore and antiquity is unknown. On a personal note it's gratifying to find something this odd and historic in my home town.
THE GODSTONE, FORNBY.—In the churchyard of Saint Luke, Formby—a village on the Lancashire coast between the Mersey and the Ribble—is to be seen an ancient stone, bearing on it an incised cross on a Calvary of three steps surmounted by an orb. Until recently Roman Catholics were buried here, and the coffins carried three times round this stone, presumably (as in other instances) following the way of the sun. The custom may be very ancient, and indeed a pagan survival. Roman Catholics, moreover, in visiting the churchyard, used to kneel down and pray before this stone. The church has been rebuilt, but was of Norman or pro-Norman foundation. The font is remarkable, polygonal in plan, with twentythree sides. HENRY TAYLOR.,
Birklands, Birkdale, Lancashire.
From N+Q, MArch 7th, 1908. Do I detect a hint of 'Those wacky Roman Catholics!!' in his attitude? Perhaps. But it doesn't shed any more light on the stone's mysterious roots. He doesn't seem aware of it being moved into the churchyard (supposedly only 30 years before, according to Jimmyd's notes) - in any case quite a weird thing to do with an allegedly pagan stone. You think you'd sooner be moving such things out of churchyards.