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| The Great Stone (Downham Hall) |
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|Description ||Close up of 'The Great Stone' near Downham Hall.
Marker Stone in Lancashire at SD782444
The Great Stone is a small boulder lying beneath the wall by the entrance to Downham Hall at the junction of the Chatburn road and Green Lane, about 500 yards northwest of St Leonard's church, Downham. The Roman road road between Elslack and Ribchester forts intersects here and runs along the inner side of the Downham estate wall and then on towards Clitheroe. The stone is said to be the burial stone of two Roman soldiers. But there is more to this than meets the eye.
The small boulder lies beneath the wall at the roadside and is 2-3 feet in circumference. It appears to go right under the wall but I am unable to establish its true measurements because the other end is on private land with trees and bushes in the way. Looking at the boulder closely shows it to be pock-marked with pea-shaped stones or fossills embedded into it. The stone is darkish in colour and different to other stones found in this area.
There has been much speculation as to what the boulder is doing here, but legend says beneath it lie the bodies of two Roman soldiers who were killed close by in a skirmish with Brigantes (the Celtic tribe). Apparently the boulder used to lie in the field opposite but in 1830 it was brought to where it now lies and the wall built on top of it. The bones of a male or two males were unearthed with the boulder and interred in its present position. It could have originally been part of a Roman milestone, a monalith or a marker stone for a burial site.
Local folklore tells us that the stone moves around and even turns itself up-side down when the bell of St Leonard's church tolls midnight.
In the fields opposite agger is often found - this being part of the construction phase of the Roman road (2nd century CE).|
| Could this not be a proper site page. It is mentioned by several authors and websites, including Northern Antiquarian.|
| Hi Sunny, please could you let us know which authors have mentioned this site in which books and which other websites besides TNA it's featured on?|
In this age of instant information it's often the case that one unsubstantiated story is repeated in many different places giving it the vestige of legitimacy when in fact that's far from the truth.
The stone itself looks like conglomerate to me but I'm not a geologist. If it was moved in the 1830's and the wall built over it, there should be some original documentation somewhere explaining this strange action.
| Runemage to answer your question. The stone is mentioned in the book 'Journeys Through Brigantia Vol 9' by John and Phillip Dixon, published by Aussteiger. He is a contributor to the Meg Portal. Websites that mention the site are Topix, Downham Circular Walks 1 and Downham Circular Walks - Lancs Council Environment. Also, the eminent author and historian Ron Freethy mentions The Great Stone in his Lancashire Evening Telegraph Tourist Guide to Downham column 18th May 2010. And, as you already know it is recorded by The Northern Antiquarian.|
|Andy B |
| All fine but even if it is Roman, we don't currently cover Roman stuff. So unless there's a serious suggestion that it is more ancient then it's not currently appropriate to list it|
| I think the boulder pre-dates the Romans Andy, you only need look at the little pea-shaped stones embedded into it. There are three reasons as to why the boulder was moved in 1830. Firstly, to protect it from being robbed from the field opposite, secondly, his lordship's descendants feared hauntings in the vacinity. Thirdly, well I'm sorry but I am unable to tell you on the portal. But It's something that happened hundreds of years ago regarding Lord Assheton's ancestor and a curse put on the family. You might find something about it on the web. Something to do with....... atonement......|
| The Roman expert thinks this is a Roman milestone. However, John Dixon (Aussteiger) believes it to be a cross-base, while local historians claim it is the gravestone of two Roman soldiers who were murdered by the Brigantes. I'm confused, everybody is !|
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