The Odd Stones of Staunton

Staunton is a village in the Forest of Dean located near the English/Welsh border. This area is famous for the stunning woodland and for the large amount of stones, boulders and rock outcrops. Some of these are located in England and others in Wales.

The Forest of Dean is formed of a raised basin of paleozoic rocks folded in the Variscan Orogeny. Underlain by great thickness of the Old Red Sandstone, the basin is filled with carboniferous limestone and sandstones. The majority of stones and boulders in the area are composed of Old Red Sandstone and quartz conglomerate. It's believed that they have mostly been formed by natural weathering over millions of years.

The Staunton Longstone is a Bronze Age standing stone which stands near the A4136 road. Some people believe that the stone was once part of an ancient cemetery. Legend has it that if you prick the stone at midnight it bleeds.

The Buck Stone is a local landmark and it's located along a walking trail near the village. It used to rock on its base up to the middle of the 19th century. However, in June 1885 a party of five people managed to dislodge the boulder and send it crashing down the slope. The boulder split into several pieces, but was hauled back up the hill and cemented back in place.

The Suck Stone is reputed to be the largest piece of detached conglomerate in Wales and has been estimated to weigh 14,000 tons. It's located in the Highmeadow Woods not very far from the Near Hearkening Rock.

The Broad Stones are Neolithic stones scattered across fields near the English/Welsh border. One of the stones is located on the grounds of Broadstones Farm and it's easily accessible from a public footpath.

The Toad's Mouth Stone is one of the several rock outcrops in Staunton. It's located at the western end of the village and it's visible from the road.

The Sacrificial Stone also known as the Virgin's Cup is a natural rock with an artificial basin cut in the top of its surface. The rock also has a notch the size of a man's neck cut in one edge and a  draining channel. Legend has it that the rock was used for sacrificial purposes, but many people believe that the basin was used to burn oil or fat for beacon use.

The Near Hearkening Rock is a large weathered cliff face of Old Red Sandstone and quartz conglomerate. It's located near the Suck Stone and it's easily accessible from the Highmeadow Trail. The Far Hearkening Rock is the least visited of the two rock formations due to its remote location in the woods. It's not as large as the Near Hearkening Rock, but it's worth to check it out. These rock formations are known for having been used as observation platforms and listening posts by local gamekeepers to detect poachers in search of deer. They were also used by the Royalist Troops during the Civil War. It's believed that it's possible to detect a whisper or the slightest movement while standing with your back to the concave cliff face.

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