30 Days Wild – Day 14 – Stocks and Stones

It’s Day 14 of 30 Days Wild and being a Wednesday, meant that I took my Dad out for a pub lunch. Finally we had a sunny, wind-free June day, which meant we could sit outside to enjoy our lunch alfresco.  For some reason this year’s 30 Days Wild has involved nearly as much historical history as natural history and today was no exception.

 

Our pub du jour was the delightful Pandy Inn in Dorstone, Herefordshire, not far from Hay on Wye. The Pandy Inn is reputedly one of the oldest pubs in Herefordshire and the rose filled garden was a very pleasant place to have our lunch. Food always tastes better outside and my salt & pepper squid went down a treat! No idea why the pub had these medieval looking stocks, don’t know if they were old or replicas, but they made for an unusual garden feature!

After lunch we headed from possibly the oldest pub to possibly the oldest man-made structure in Herefordshire – Arthur’s Stone. Arthur’s Stone is a Neolithic tomb, dating from between 3700 and 2700BC. It is perched on top of a nearby hill and mythology has connected it to Arthur since about the 13th century.

The tomb consists of an elongated mound with several large stones visible on top. The largest stone capping it all, is estimated to weigh about 25 tonnes!

The stones themselves are impressive enough, but the view is absolutely stunning. I could have done with one of those maps you get that tells you the names of all the hills you can see from a given vantage point. But I think we were looking across to the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons.

I tried to do one of my shaky video clips to give an idea of the scope of the view:

View from Arthur's Stone

This would have been a fantastic place for a picnic (had we not already stuffed ourselves at the pub!). It was very peaceful, the loudest thing we heard were the sheep bleating. Only one other car passed while we were there and it really felt like there was no-one else for miles around. Perhaps people have been picnicking here for centuries? The stones themselves showed signs of visitors, with bits of graffiti scratched into them. Some of the graffiti looked very old as the lichens had grown over and obscured the names. Nice to think of people enjoying the view hundreds of years ago – it would have looked just the same!

These stones seem to have been associated with all sorts of historical figures besides Arthur (his particular legend here says he slew a giant). A pair of knights were said to have had a duel here during the War of the Roses. King Charles (the first presumably) was said to have gathered his troops for battle here and even dined on the stone! But the story I like best is that when writing about Narnia, CS Lewis used Arthur’s Stone as the inspiration for the stone table that Aslan was sacrificed on. I loved those Narnia books as a child, so I really hope that one is true!

So I don’t know if looking at a bunch of old rocks counts as going wild, but we were out and about enjoying the fresh air and the countryside, so that will do for me! There are not many historical sites you can go to that feel as remote as this, untroubled by other visitors. Nor are there many that feel as much a part of the landscape – most have houses, or carparks and visitor centres near, which can detract from the natural surroundings. Arthur’s Stone just had a simple wooden fence and almost didn’t feel like a man-made structure at all. Just part of the Herefordshire countryside emerging from the hillside of its own accord perhaps!

 

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