Visited 17 October 2010. A lovely autumn Sunday with evening plans limiting the distance I can go persuades me that it's about time I ventured into the Forest of Dean. Despite living in Gloucestershire for four years by this point, I have never made it amongst the ancient glades of one of the county's most famous areas. TJJ's recent late summer pictures of the Long Stone are the clincher.
Taking note of comments about the busy nature of the road, I take the bus to nearby Christchurch, from where it's a stroll along the quiet paths of Ellis Reddings Wood and Marian's Enclosure towards the stone. The forest here is a lovely mix of deciduous species and widely spaced conifers, making for a pleasant atmosphere as sunlight slants through the canopy.
Approaching the edge of the woods, the Stone itself comes directly into line of sight. What a beauty! About seven feet tall, of sedimentary rock (I guess it's sandstone) with a slight lean and lovely tapering shape. Surrounding by bracken turning orange, with the backdrop of trees, this really is a great stone. A couple of tendrils of ivy snake their way up the stone's side, these will want watching if it's not to disappear from view. Being Sunday, the road is not too busy (although busy enough) and it is possible to disregard it enough to admire the stone at some length. Perhaps not a place to lounge around, but nevertheless the fine stone is enough to make a visit highly worthwhile despite the road's proximity.
After a while I head over the road and take a circuitous woodland route to Staunton, before heading on to The Buckstone.
To quote from D.P. Sullivan's "Old Stones of the Cotwolds & Forest of Dean" - This monolith, of Old Red Conglomerate, stands at the side of the Gloucester to Monmouth road about a mile from Coleford in the Forest of Dean.
My very first visit to the Forest of Dean (and Symond's Yat) today - off topic so a quick mention in passing. Just before the village of Staunton approximately 4 miles from Monmouth on the A4136 stands this 8ft monolith. Impossible to stop (or slow down) if driving towards Monmouth, my friend pulled into a lorry layby about 100 metres further along and we walked back on a narrow asphalt footpath laid down at the side of the verge. An intriguing stone much detracted from by its proximity to a fast A road.
(D.P. Sullivan has written some notes which I which type up for the Folklore section).
The long stone is immediately south off the A4136 and I mean immediatley,
it is a nice tall stone, had it been just about anywhere else I would have stayed longer than three minutes, but the exhaust fumes not only kill the atmosphere but everything else between the stone and the road.
But if your'e passing and decide not to stop, atleast wave and say cooeee.
Visited 28th March 2004: On the down side this stone is slap bang next to a busy road, but on up side access to the stone is extremely good. In fact you could view the stone from your car if you wanted. I opted to get out, leaving the others to watch from a distance. There's a slender hard shoulder so parking isn't too dangerous.
The forestry immediately to the north of the Long Stone has recently been felled, opening up views of the stone that haven't been accessible for a long time. Having said that, there are some large tree stumps very close to the stone, and photos of it before the clear felling make me think it must have looked rather nice shaded by trees.
This is a very impressive chunky stone, marred only by being so close to the road and thus taking on a bit of a novelty factor. It is quite literally 2 metres from the edge of the road, on the north side.
It must be more than 7ft tall because my 6' 5" friend stood next to it and quite a lot of it went over his head. I'd say it must be close-ish to 8ft tall.
This Stone is by the side of the A4136 Monmouth to Christchurch road, about a mile from Staunton. It stands in some undergrowth but there is a footpath close by. It is about 7ft tall and has two grooves running from the top to the ground. The story goes that if you prick it with a pin at midnight it will bleed. There should be other Stones at Staunton, the Buck Stone and the Queen stone, I'll leave that 'till another time.
Taken from D.P. Sullivan's "Old Stones of the Cotswolds & Forest of Dean" (Reardon Publishing)
A note from Mr J.C. Wood (Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society vi., 1881-2 357), quoted by Crawford says ..
"The first halting place was at a remarkable monolith by the side of the highway ... This monolith is of unhewn stone, and stands 8ft above the ground, and probably is as deep beneath it. It is known as the 'Long Stone'. No tradition conserning it remains except if it be pricked by a pin exactly at midnight, it will bleed."
There are no visible traces of an associated mound or any other stones in the vicinity. Ray Wright quotes a source from 1857 telling of a carving of a mask on the side of the stone facing the road. I have been unable to find this piece of Victorian vandalism, but have, by photographic accident, noticed a bizarre simulacrum on the side of the stone facing towards Staunton. In the right conditions it is possible to discern the image of a human form on the surface of the stone, with arms outstretched in the manner of a crucifixion.
The Long Stone forms the important centre point of Ray Wright's 'Leyline Cross', as described in Secret Forest.