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:
Thor’s Stone & Taston Wayside Cross

They are a strange pair: A large megalith protruding from a retaining wall; and a weathered, battered old stepped stone cross in the middle of the road. Millennia separate their construction, though in the modern-day both seem to be monuments from worlds unrelated to our own.

Summary for ‘Thor’s Stone & Taston Wayside Cross’:

Location: Taston, Oxfordshire

Type: ‘Standing Stones & Circles’.

Condition: A large monolith in a wall, opposite an old wayside cross on the centre of the road junction.

Access: Public road verges.

OS Grid Ref.: SP359220

Further information:
    • Thor’s Stone, Historic England.
    • The cross, Historic England

Walks posts for site:
    • A Beltane Megaliths Trail.

They’re an incongruous pair of ideological foes who have faced one another, for centuries, in a seemingly out-of-the-way small hamlet on the edge of the Evenlode valley.

Details on Thor’s Stone are slim:

The name of Taston is a toponym, being a transmutation of Thorstan, the Old English equivalent of ‘Thor’s Stone’. Clearly, it’s had the same name for a very long time.

Little is known because the nearby roads and buildings prevent proper investigation. It is possibly the remains of a dolmen, like the nearby Hoar Stone, or possibly a single standing stone like the nearby Hawk Stone.

The Medieval cross came around the 14th Century, perhaps to challenge the ‘pagan’ presence of the stone over the road. Like at nearby Kiddington, the cross has survived relatively unchanged for centuries, even though the village probably grew-up around it in the years following its erection.

I normally greet this pair as I’m reaching the end of my day, heading back to Charlbury station. It’s a nice spot to rest a while, and take a drink, before the last push over the undulating couple of miles to the end of the walk. They are, though, an obscure pair; a mystery. I’ve been able to dig-up very little hard information on either. But I think, as you sit on the small triangle of grass to admire them, that perhaps adds to their charm.