What a brilliant standing stone this one is, gnarled, pitted and worn beyond belief, but that's not all it's got going for it. With long agricultural views east and south, the many wild flowers everywhere there aren't crops, the skylark giving it some high above, the stones size, over seven feet, and the early morning sunshine, but that's not the stones doing, that's probably Sod's law, the sun was late coming out at the Rollright's on this summer solstice morning.
I drove past it once, then had to go back, then move up a bit further, there's no clue as to where the stone is, but a bit of perseverance will pay off, it's not a long road.
What a brilliant stone.
With acknowledgement and thanks to Ocifant for his notes elsewhere, we did his tour of the 'Other Oxfordshire Stones' on this bright and beautiful day. I met my friend in Highworth and we headed off in the direction of Lechlade and Burford.
Parked up in the village of Dean in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds; a tranquil walk along a sunlit country lane, tranquil with birdsong, until we came to a gap in the hedgerow. The Hawk Stone was clearly visible from two fields away – we followed the field boundaries until we came to a way mark and another hedge gap. This beautiful standing stone stands proud about 8' tall, obviously similar to the Rollrights, very holey.
This is a surprisingly easy stone to visit and is only a gentle 15 minute stroll from the parking area described by Moth. The easily identifiable public footpath runs through two fields, right past the stone. When I visited the field crop only went as far as the edge of the stone, so access was no problem. The stone is about 6ft high and is just about visible from the lane. It is worth the walk to the stone as it gives a good impression (I guess) of how the Rollright stones must have once looked like – full of holes and character! Well worth a visit.
On a fine bank Holiday Monday, the exquisite Cheryl and I arrived at our destination to be greeted by an idyllic scene – fabulous light, a field full of new green plants, hordes of birds singing, and blue, blue skies. The Hawk Stone herself looked fabulous rising up on the horizon from the sea of green fecundity, and it wasn't long before Cheryl was bonding deeply with her. After all, this was her first visit. Definitely not her last!
The amazing sunshine made the stone sing forth with colour, as ever, and we soon set to work taking some wicked photographs. We had arrived at the perfect time, as three frames from the end of the last roll, the light began to weaken, and the temperature drop. The sun was covered for a while by a wonderful cloud, so we headed back to the car, by which time there was the beginnings of a sumptuous orange and purple sunset which filled every horizon we gazed upon. Lovely.
Evening sunshine was beginning to glow as the charming Cloudhigh, the radiant Lissy and I trudged up the field towards the magical Hawk Stone. We were engaged in a fascinating conversation about past lives/genetic memory as the tram lines in the new crop led us to the stone.
The placing of this monolith is fascinating. Was it a boundary marker? A sign post? A place for offerings - there seems to be a purposely made hollow in the top - or a gateway between the worlds? Notice how the northern landscape ends a short way away, whilst all other points of the compass open up for miles either side.
After some soothing stone hugging, we said our goodbyes and left this most excellent, ruminating monument.
After visting the Hoar Stone, the delightful Jane and I walked through a stubbly field deep in the heart of north-west Oxfordshire’s skylark country. It was a perfectly still evening, and I dawdled along the footpath to the top field, watching the skylarks performing. (Vaughan Williams captured this so brilliantly in The Lark Ascending; which is some achievement, considering the nature of bird song).
Jane, on the other hand, shot ahead, and had already reached the Hawk Stone by the time I saw this unique stone appear on the horizon. This is a very mysterious monument, hidden and solitary, but gazing over a fabulous vista from her hillside perch. (Excuse the pun). There really is a sense of time and eternity here, and as I was going through a particularly stressful time, I found this stone a salve for the soul.
The stone glowed all sorts of yellows and purples in the evening sun, and Jane was given to moments of delighted squealing every time a particularly bold colour was revealed: “Look! Look! That’s *pure* Naples Yellow – wow!!”
I’m not so good with understanding colour, being a B/W photographer, but when I screwed my eyes up I could see something that resembled one of the messy colour blocks in her field box. I, very stupidly, had not brought a camera with me, but instead had decided to try out my sketching skills. Would have been better off with a camera, quite frankly.
We sat for a couple of hours in the field, listening to the birds, observing a hare (Jane and I always see hares when we’re out in the landscape), and watching the sun sink. As we left, I noticed that the south face of the stone bears an uncanny resemblance to Picasso’s ‘Weeping Woman’ . . . how weird is that?“
Do you know, this is my favourite way to spend an evening,” Jane said, as we walked back down the field, trying to work out the age of the hedgerow. “You can forget all your nightclubs, boozing, et al; leave me in a field with some stones, my paints and a flask of tea anytime – it’s *brilliant*!”I agreed it was, and to make it even more brilliant, we went and had a bag of chips in nearby Woodstock . . .
mon 18 aug 2003
On our way from the Hoar Stone to Lynemam Longbarrow we found this beautiful stone (o s map 164) it was a perfect summer day,and finding it was not to difficult,even the two tractors building hay stacks added to the scene,all in all a it is an amazing site.
25 July 2003
Approaching Chiddington from the east, I turned right for Dean. Arriving at Dean, there is a bench set on a verge, where I took an immediate left. After a good few hundred yards this lane bends fairly sharply right (you can see where I mean even on a road atlas).
Right where the road turns there is a footpath signposted heading more or less straight on across the fields. Parking here would have been inconsiderate so I carried on to the next junction and was pleased to see that if I turned right (continuing a loop back towards Dean) there was a small layby.
Walking along the lane back to the footpath described, I realised I could see the Hawk Stone projecting above the horizon on my right. I simply followed the path and couldn't miss the stone, standing alone in deep crop.
Luckily, distinct tractor tracks enabled me to cross the crop to the stone itself, though photographic opportunities were limited. I still took several pictures hoping that what remained of the interesting cloud formations would add to the atmosphere, but alas, it proved too late.
Deeply textured and looferlike in it's surface – in a similar way to the stones of the Rollright Stones, King Stone and Whispering Knights etc, the single stone is also a bizarrely shaped beastie. (See Rhiannon's 'Folklore' post on the Hawk Stone page.)
This is one of those single stones that in my opinion calls into question Aubrey Burl's assertion that single standing stones were usually originally part of a bigger setting. I find it difficult to reconcile the size and proportions of the stone with a burial chamber, yet neither does it fit the style of the Rollrights circle.
Perhaps it's one of the exceptions. It certainly looks right on its own and I couldn't imagine how it would look any other way.
Sunday, March 16th 2003
What a beautiful day it was yesterday! As you may have noticed, the sun and the moon were both in a cloudless blue sky on an east-west axis. I was at the Hawk Stone with my OS map and I noticed that the Hawk Stone was in line with 2 tumuli, the Hoar Stone, and a further tumuli and Knollbury (an earthwork) on this east-west axis! Allowing for shift of alignment in the last few thousand years, they may have all been perfectly in line with these phenomenon.
Anybody got any ideas or information, as I am a novice in these matters!!
Sitting alone, silently, gracefully, in splendid isolation at the top of a field, its a miracle this one wasn't pulled down and ploughed up centuries ago. But she wasn't.
What a grand place this will be to return to in the summer for a picnic with a loved one. Big skies, tall grass, great open sort of vibes off this. Tricky finding it. You need a map. She is marked, just as Julian says, but there's no signposts and you can't really see her from the bottom of the field. Have faith and keep walking. This peaceful and stately treasure is just waiting to be discovered.
In local folklore the Hawk Stone formed an integral part of a stone circle here, but there is little known evidence to substantiate this. In Thorn Graves' (1980) dowsing experiments at the Rollright circle, he found what he described as an 'overground' linking the Circle to the Hawk Stone, but no other connecting sites are known along this line. Interestingly one legend surrounding the monolith tells how this monolith was thrown, or dragged, across the land by a old witch or hag, though we are not told from where- a motif found in connection with spirit lines across the country.
In Corbett's History of Spelsbury (1962) the author referenced some of the folklore spoken of the holed Hawk Stone by one Mr Caleb Lainchbury who said the cleft at the top of the Hawk Stone at Dean was supposed to have been made by the chains of the witches who were tied to it and burnt. As witches seem to have been extremely rare in Oxfordshire it cannot have been a very common practise to burn them at Dean; but there may have been some kind of fire ceremonies near the stone. In name, Hawk stone may come from a fancied resemblence to a Hawk, or because there very often are hawks hovering over those upland fields: or it may simply be a corruption of 'Hoar' meaning old.
In pagan Celtic Britain hawks played a not inconsiderable part in their shamanic lore and,according to Ross  were "malevolent birds". This evidently important and visually impressive monolith plays a substantial part in an incredibly precise alignment (ley) running roughly east-west across the landscape.
A single prehistoric standing stone known as the Hawk Stone on a natural crest on Spelsbury Down, 900 metres west of Spelsburydown Farm. The single oolitic limestone monolith is believed to stand in its original position. Although it has been suggested that the monument might be all that remains of a portal dolmen (a rare type of burial chamber), there are no surviving associated orthostats or other evidence available at present to support this claim. The stone measures approximately 1 metre by 0.9 metres at its base and tapers to 0.9 metres at the apex which is 2.3 metres above the present ground level. It stands upright and to remain balanced must have at least one third of its total length buried below ground level. A concave hollow in its upper face is known to have been worn over time by people rubbing it for luck, although it may originally have been natural in origin. Scheduled.