A lovely sunny spring day on our way down to Portsmouth and the ferry to Brittany. I'd looked for the Thor stone before on previous trips down to the Rollrights, but was always confused by the maze of lanes.
Now with the sat-nav taking the strain we pull up in the tiny village of Tatston. Managing to park near the old stone cross on the green without blocking the roads, (a feat in itself) we have a wander over to examine the stone.
The stone is a good size, and reminds me of the oolithic limestone that makes up the Rollrights, but less holey. It seems indignant to the proximity of the nearby wall, like it's trying to peer over into the garden. The village is quiet today, it seems to have a bit of a 'Midsommer Murders' vibe to it, and no cars come by to interrupt my photographing of the menhir. It's nice to see that the Thor Stone seems to have weathered the centuries better than the stone cross set up to ward off its evil influence!
Giving the stone a Beltane hug we leave to continue our journey, if you're in the area the Thor stone, Hawk stone and Hoar stone can all be easily visited being quite close to each other, and I'm glad we finally managed to explore this corner of megalithic Oxfordshire.
A tall stone, leaning rather than standing, against a Cotswold stone wall opposite the stone cross in the centre of the lovely little village of Taston. After spending some time with the stone,we went down the steep narrow lane and by chance came across a spring spilling into a pool that fed a fast flowing stream. The cottages by the spring were called Thorstone Cottage and Spring Cottage respectively (a Victorian monument circa 1869 stands next to the spring-head).
Part of Ocifant's Tour of the Other Stones in Oxfordshire.
Visited 11th May 2003: Having visited the Hoar Stone, I drove down the road to Taston to see the Thor Stone. The village is tiny, and parking near the stone without blocking the road is tricky. You can't miss it though. It's so obvious that I wondered at first whether this was what I was looking for (should have done some research before setting out).
A glorious late afternoon in August - golden light bathing all it touches forming long shadows and a quick trip with my kids (before we go home and light the BBQ) to the tiny but perfectly formed hamlet of Taston on the edge of the Oxfordshire Cotwolds. Perfect! except that this afternoon the nation learned that two missing Cambridgeshire girls, Holly and Jessica, had been murdered and were never coming home. It felt all the more important to be with my children and go to someplace old.
The 7 foot tall Thorstone stands idly against a garden wall in the middle of Taston, leaning nonchalently as if waiting for a rural bus service that was discontinued years before. Of the same limestone as the Hawk Stone and the Rollrights, this is yet more evidence of the scale and importance of the north Oxfordshire landscape as a megalithic centre. But why here in Taston?
The water source maybe? An enchanting spring at the other end of the village bubbles up and out via a Victorian gothic memorial fountain, hidden away under a canopy of yews and beech trees, creating a delightful shady pond before it tumbles away to form a stream. My son was thrilled to be able to paddle and catch tiny shrimps. We admired the liverworts growing in the water as is tumbles over the lip of the fountain, and put our heads down to taste the cold, cold, pure water flowing straight up from the earth.
The Thorstone stands opposite an old cross on the tiny village green. If you can find Taston (between Charlbury, Enstone and Chipping Norton), you'll find the stone. See 'folklore' for more about the cross and the name.
Said in local folklore to have been a thunderbolt cast down from the skies by Thor, God of storms, (Corbett, 1962), and first recorded in the late thirteenth century in the survey of the Chadlington hundred. It is possible that the name Thor Stone is from the name of a nearby village of Taston, recorded as Thorstan in 1278 CE. Close by is a stone cross, placed there by early Christians to abate the evil influences from the Thor Stone
Between these two old monuments was once an elm tree which was a meeting place of the villagers in times gone by (Pumphrey,1990)
Regarding my folklore post (below) and the derivation of the Thor stone's name....
TomBo reckons that this theory is incorrect. He believes that there's an ancient deity (male) called Toar. It was he for whom the Tors (eg. Glastonbury Tor, Rough Tor) were named. His divine descendants include Thor and Taranus, the Keltic thunder god. The words "taurus" and "altar" (literally all-Toar) are also likely to be derived from his name. He was known in some places as Pen or Ben (for some reason), and in this guise he named Scotland's mountains (Ben Nevis etc.), Italy's Appenines and my own beloved Pennines.
According to Corbett in 1962, the Thorstone is said to have been cast down form the skies by Thor, God of storms. I believe its more likely to be a corruption of the name of 'Hoar', the great Goddess. Indeed the Hawk Stone, and various Hoar stones stand widely hereabouts and probably derived their names from the same deity.
In 1278 CE, the village of Taston was recorded as being called 'Thorstan', so it seems likely that the village derives its name from the stone itself. About 10ms away is a huge old stone cross, the top it now fallen, which is said to have been erected to abate the evil influence of the ancient standing stone. (Bloody early Christians wanting a monopoly on history and goodness again!)