Lost and found

The article mentioned in the previous post as having been lost in cyberspace has been once more located, in an improved format. Whereas the first one was a ‘character recognition’ digitisation (where, for instance, iiiiic would have to be deciphered as ‘nine’), the new one has each page as a scanned image, like a photocopy.

It was in the Wiltshire Archæological and Natural History magazine, vol XLIV, no CXLIX, for December 1928, pp 261-262. The article is ME Cunnington, ‘Sarsen Stones at Kingston Deverill’. The important details are as I remembered them, but I repeat here an extract:

In their original situation on the hill the stones seem to have had considerable importance attached to them; one version of local tradition that they had been a meeting place of Kings, another that fines had to be paid at them, and a third that executions took place there.

OS map 1896: the northern half of the civil parish of Kingston Deverill showing Court Hill and King's Hill; the 'British Trackway' would be the Harrow Way

OS map 1896: the northern half of the civil parish of Kingston Deverill showing Court Hill and King’s Hill; the ‘British Trackway’ would be the Harrow Way

The ‘hill above the village’ mentioned in the article as being the place where the stones were originally found is there described as ‘ “King’s Hill” or “King’s Court Hill” ‘. This clouds the issue as the OS map shows there as being two hills above the village, one to the south west, the other to the south east, respectively Court Hill and King’s Hill. Other sources for this story name the hill as King’s Court Hill.

The Wiltshire Council Community History site,  written much later, tells the story thus:

There is a strong connection with King Alfred, and his famous battle against the Danes at Ethandun. Alfred gathered his forces together at two meeting places, and it is possible that one of these was Court Hill at Kingston Deverill. There are three Sarsen Stones in a field next to the church, which were found by a farmer on King’s Court Hill. It is said that King Egbert held court here. Local tradition says that Alfred climbed neighbouring King’s Hill to view the enemy’s position. It is therefore quite possible that Alfred used these Sarsen Stones on King’s Court Hill as a meeting point.

Not all of this is provably true, but by this time the association with King Alfred has been made, which it wasn’t in the earlier (1928), very local version. Judging by these two versions, the stones appear to have been moved three times: from the hill to a site by the river Wylye; from there to the rectory garden by the church and finally to their present site in a field by the rectory. More on that.

Finally, for the moment: I might have been a bit misled in thinking the original arrangement on the hill was ‘quite small’. Relatively small, perhaps, compared with Stonehenge, but the uprights were about 6 ft high, 4ft 6ins wide and the capstone similar but not as wide. All three were about 15 inches thick.

This is page 262 of the article (p 261 has: It may be as well to put on record how these three large sarsen stones came to be in their present position while the facts are still in living memory. For many years the stones lay close to the river near the spot where the old road …):

p 262, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History magazine, December 1928

p 262, Wiltshire Archa…ological and Natural History magazine, December 1928

Consideration of the snag has been delayed as I did not know I was going to locate this article again.


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