British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain

Arthur's Stone

Arthur's Stone

All that remains of a prehistoric chambered tomb that lies on the crest of Merbach Hill.  A large slab rests on several boulders, completely exposed to the elements.  It would have been covered with earth in its original state.

Throughout the 19th century it was known as Arthur's Stone.  Many varying tales have been told about the stones, all revolving around King Arthur.  Some claimed it was his final resting place, others that he battled a rival king there and broke his back and buried him under the stones.  Another is that Arthur killed a giant, slapping him against a different boulder on the far side of the lane, which showed the hollows where his elbows struck it as he fell.  These same hollows are also possibly the grooves where Arthur's knees made as he prayed, giving thanks after winning the battle.

Arthur’s Stone Herefordshire © jennifer bailey 2018

A local rector of nearby Brewardine told of a curious local tradition in 1876 that the stone is getting smaller, which is interesting because it contrasts the typical tale that the stones grow bigger in the earth.  He recollected in his diary;

Joseph Gwynne told me that when he was a boy the great stone called Arthur's Stone was much longer than it is now. A hundred sheep could lie under the shadow of it. Also the stone stood much higher on its supporting pillars than it does at present, so high indeed that an ordinary sized man could walk under it. Across the green lane and opposite the stone was a rock lying flat on the ground which was imprinted with the marks of a man's knees and fingers. These marks were believed to have been made by King Arthur where he heaved the stone up on his back and set it on the pillars.