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The Longstone of Minchinhampton

Standing Stone / Menhir


Much more famous than "Ragged Jonathan"* is a perforated menhir about a mile to the east of Minchinhampton. It was formerly surrounded by the Common arable fields, to one of which it gave the name of "Longstone Field." Once, when they were ploughing there with oxen, they yoked a good many together, and tried to pull the Longstone out of the ground, but "something" held it firm. [..] Further, "when the Longstone hears the clock strike twelve, it runs round the field," as almost every child in the place will tell you. Within living memory, children with whooping-cough and rickets used to be put through one of the holes in the stone. Traditions of bloodshed also cling round the Longstone; some say that it marks the burial place of a Danish chief killed in a battle at "Woeful Danes' Bottom," about half a mile distant, where "the blood ran as high as the wheels of a cart," and the victory was won by women who gave the Danes poisoned pancakes to eat. At the battle of "Woeful Danes' Bottom," which is much talked about, "the solders shot through the holes of the Longstone"; and all the tumuli or "tumps" in the neighbourhood are held to be "the soldiers' graves."
From: Cotswold Place-Lore and Customs, by J. B. Partridge, in Folklore, Vol. 23, No. 3. (Sep., 1912), pp. 332-342.

It's also been said that a hellhound-style black dog has been seen in the stone's vicinity. Not that you'll probably see the black dog at midnight - bar its nasty red glowing eyes. In the 'alternative approaches to folklore bibliography' at
it specifically mentions Woefuldane Bottom as the location of the spectral dog - this appears to be the road that the stone lies next to.

In 'A history of the parishes of Minchinhampton and Avening' by Arthur Twisden Playne (1915) it's mentioned that the Danes marched in here via the Daneway and met the Saxons at Woefuldane bottom. The slaughter of the Danes was so great that 'the blood came up over the fetlocks of the Saxon horses'. But then Playne ruins it all: "I am sorry to throw doubt on so picturesque a legend" - he says Daneway is from 'Dene Way' or valley way, and Woeful from 'Wulfflaed', a personal name.

The 'Ragged Jonathan' mentioned above is explained as follows (also in the Folklore article):
Two menhirs, "Cob Stone" and "Picked Stone," were destroyed on or near Minchinhampton Common, about seventy years ago. Still standing is the curious "Ragged Jonathan" or "Holey Stone" about 5 ft. high, pitted all over with small regular cup-like depressions. It has been used at some time as a milestone; but one old inhabitant says he thinks it came from the Devil's Churchyard, while another says that children used to be lifted over it to cure whooping-cough. I have also been told that the holes in the stone were made by Oliver Cromwell's guns.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th September 2003ce
Edited 29th September 2006ce

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