Banburyshire Rambles Photo-Journal

Paul Mobbs’ photographic record of his walks around ‘Banburyshire’ and ‘The Irondowns’, and occasionally, as part of his work around Britain, the areas beyond.

Banburyshire’s Ancient Sites:
The Hoar Stone

The Hoar Stone is ‘elusive’: I've known of people trying to find it and walk right by; I've known of people happening to pass there and seeing it by accident; sometimes its bathed in an eerie green light; sometimes, when the sun catches it through the small gap in the trees, it shines.

Summary for ‘The Hoar Stone’:

Location: Enstone, Oxfordshire

Type: ‘Standing Stones & Circles’.

Condition: Tree-covered area surrounded by dry stone wall – algae and moss-covered slabs on the ground can be slippy when wet.

Access: Gap in stone wall next to junction of B4022 and minor road to Fulwell, next to (more prominent) reservoir in the trees.

OS Grid Ref.: SP377237

Further information: Historic England

Walks posts for site:
    • A Beltane Megaliths Trail.

Today it is called, The Hoar Stone; the word ‘hoar’ derived from the Middle and Old English word for ‘old’. In times past it was called the ‘ent’ stone; derived from the Old English word for ‘giant’. Hence where the settlement of Enstone gets its name; ‘ent-stone’ (Tolkien fans take note for the origins of the name!)

Some people have problems finding it. Stand at the crossroads on the B4022 where the Fulwell road leaves Enstone. Look down the tree-lined Fulwell road, and to the right of the junction is a low stone wall. The Hoar Stone sits within the walled area.

The nearest public transport access is the S3 bus stop in Neat Enstone (also called ‘Worths Garage’).

The site is one of the most ancient in the area: Probably Neolithic, erected before most of the local Bronze and Iron Age sites, perhaps 4,600 to 5,500 years old. That’s older than the Egyptian pyramids!

The modern A44 was once the ancient ridge-route between the Glyme and Evenlode valleys on the way down to the Thames valley. The Hoar Stone sits where the Medieval ‘Old London Road’ splits from the modern road to continue on along the ridge towards Worcester.

The very first farming communities who settled here cleared the land and erected this monument; the trees around the site today are the result of land inclosure as little as 170 years ago.

The Hoar Stone should really be called ‘Stones’.

There is one large portal stone upright, with two more from the chamber up against it. Another lies flat on the floor. The leaf litter from the trees around have apparently buried more of the site, including a ring cairn which once surrounded it.

Unfortunately the conifer trees which surround it today mean the site is fairly dark and dingy. The stone is usually seen as a dark earthy brown, which is perhaps why people have problems spotting it amongst the trees.

When the sunlight does break through, the area around is bathed in a surreal green glow – as the algae and mosses which cover the stones and the ground around show their true colours.

Occasionally though, for just the short period each day when the sun can shine down the gap in the trees along the Fulwell road, the stone shines brightly in paler brown colours.

The Hoar Stone isn’t the most ‘atmospheric’ or spectacular of local ancient sites, but it’s worth a visit – especially as the tree cover provides a little shelter from the wind and rain if you need a good lunch spot on a longer day walk.