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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

The Warminster boulders

Thanks to Dave M for alerting us to the presence of three (at least!) rather fine boulders at the Warminster Travelodge.  The pic above is from the web and the two below are from Dave.  The boulder shown below looks as if it might be limestone, but the others are something of a mystery.  Are they local, or are they erratic?

Does anybody know anything about them?  Would somebody like to pop over and take a look?


TonyH said...

Yes, I have seen ONE of these boulders a year or two ago. I recall making an exasperated comment on this Blog which was more about an English Heritage advertisement placed near that boulder DEMANDING - in no uncertain terms - that people visit Stonehenge, and is marketed as "unmissable". This Travelodge is only about 10 to 15 miles from me. It is close to the Longleat Estate entrance. Incidentally, it is no distance at all from the probable site of King Alfred's overnight camp site before he defeated the Vikings in 878 A.D.J. Perhaps King Alfred MOVED a couple or so erratics in celebration of his heroic victory in the Battle of Ethandun [Edington]. You never know.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah, so it,'s not so far from Nunney -- next time we go over to see the family, we must potter over and check out the stones. Are you aware of other boulders like these in the general area?

TonyH said...

Alas, no, but that doesn't mean there are none, I just don't walk too much thereabouts. The Warminster Travelodge is at the junction of the A350 (the Bypass) with the A36. Postcode for Sat Nav purposes BA12 7RJ

King Alfred's overnight camp was very probably within Eastleigh Wood, at ST877424 where some features are still discernible. The site is known as Robin Hood's Bower and was the meeting place of the Warminster Hundred i.e. the Saxon moot, and is near the River Wylye.

As regards the possibility of boulders/erratics, there are quite a few steep slopes, known locally as Hangings, a mile or so to the west within the Longleat Forest and near the Center Parcs facility. Notable feature Cley Hill is close by too. There are long barrows which may or may not contain sizeable stones on or near the edge of Salisbury Plain nkhear Warminster, and the Iron Age hill forts of Battlesbury and Scratchbury took advantage of the steep slopes. Boles Barrow lies a few miles east from Arn Hill long barrow [ST 874471] which is on the escarpment of Salisbury Plain. This barrow contains some stone features as David Field and Leslie Grinsell [1960] have observed in their books on Wiltshire and Wessex respectively. David Field has also remarked on the presence of long barrows along the Wylye Valley, and says that the Arn Hill barrow had a standing stone set within (page 59 of his book). "Although we have no radiocarbon date, this is probably the earliest evidence of the erection of a standing stone in Wiltshire" [Field and McOmish, 2017].

Dave Maynard said...

Thanks for the background on the area.

The stones were the only exciting thing at the Travelodge. I must say that I don't normally admit to going to such places, but it is a long way from Whitland to Bournemouth!


BRIAN JOHN said...

The big stone by the front door looks to me as if it might be a sandstone or gritstone, with quartz bands running through it. There are lots of sandstones to the west and in the Warminster area. The dark and heavily eroded rock in Dave's photos looks more and more like a thin-bedded limestone, maybe also from the west. There are Jurassic oolites and then in the Frome area some Carboniferous Limestones too -- reaching their greatest thickness in the Mendips. So if they are genuine erratics, the best guess might be that they are sedimentary rocks from not too far away, in the west (always assuming that they are not just ornamental features brought in by Travelodge for landscaping purposes.....!!)