Neolithic Chambered Tomb / Portal Dolmen
Enstone, Oxfordshire OS Map Ref SP378237
OS Maps - Landranger 164 (Oxford), Explorer 191 (Banbury, Bicester & Chipping Norton)
The Hoar Stone
| In the great scheme
of British prehistoric monuments, the Hoar Stone does not figure highly. The shattered
remains of a Neolithic
tomb, it consists of three standing stones, (the largest known as 'the Old
Soldier' is nearly 3 metres high) that form an arc facing eastwards and with 3
or 4 broken slabs lying at its feet, some possibly parts of a capstone.
All remains of its mound have disappeared since the 19th century.
However, to consider these remains as of little interest would be wrong. This is a site that at first does not want to be found, does not want to be photographed. The first time I visited, I drove past it at least three times, passing within 10 feet of the stones. I only located them with the assistance of some local walkers. The Hoar Stone stands almost invisible, yet only a few feet from a narrow road, in the dappled shade of Enstone plantation - I tried to take photographs but they failed to come out. I had to wait for a further year before I could return, this time with a tripod and flash unit to get this picture and coming back to the stones was like a welcome journey to visit an old friend, it is a magical site that draws one back to it time and time again.
Local legend says that the stones will return to their places if anyone tries to move them, and that on Midsummer's Eve, the Old Soldier travels down to the village to drink. Incidentally, the term 'Hoar' which also applies to several other monuments, is thought to originate from the Great Goddess Hoeur.
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