Blowing Stone

The Blowing Stone is a perforated sarsen at grid reference SU32412 87083 in Kingston Lisle, Oxfordshire (Berkshire until 1974). The stone is in a garden at the foot of Blowingstone Hill just south of the Icknield Way (B4507), about 4 12 miles (7 km) west of Wantage and about 1 12 miles (2.4 km) east of White Horse Hill.

Blowingstone Hill is part of the escarpment of the Berkshire Downs, at the crest of which is The Ridgeway.

Blowing Stone 2
The Blowing Stone in its modern setting


The Blowing Stone blow hole, Kingston Lisle - - 666866
The blowing hole in the stone

The stone is capable of producing a booming sound if someone with the required skill blows into one of the holes the right way. According to legend it could be heard atop White Horse Hill, where 19th-century antiquarians thought King Alfred the Great's Saxon troops had camped, and that this was how Alfred summoned them for the Battle of Ashdown against the Danes in AD 871.


Thomas Hughes' novel Tom Brown's School Days refers to it as the Blawing Stwun and calls the village Kingstone Lisle.

It is also one of the "sacred stones" mentioned in William Horwood's Duncton Wood, the first book in his fantasy fiction series about a group of moles.


  • Ford, David Nash (2003). "The Blowing Stone". Royal Berkshire History.

External links

Coordinates: 51°34′54″N 1°32′01″W / 51.581686°N 1.533622°W

Battle of Ashdown

The Battle of Ashdown, in Berkshire (possibly the part now in Oxfordshire), took place on 8 January 871. Alfred the Great, then a prince of only 22, led the army of his brother, King Ethelred of Wessex, in a victorious battle against the invading Danes.Accounts of the battle are based to a large extent on Asser's Life of Alfred, however there is some dispute about whether this is an authentic account.

Chain Hill

Chain Hill is one of the hills of the North Wessex Downs, located in the civil parish of Wantage in the English county of Oxfordshire. In 1974 it was transferred from Berkshire. It is designated part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty by the Countryside Agency and forms part of the Vale of White Horse.

Chain Hill is the chalk downland hill directly above Wantage and also the name of the road rising from Wantage through the westerly part of the scarp to the Berkshire Downs. It rises steeply south of Wantage towards Wantage Field and back to the Ridgeway and east from Manor Road across to Lark Hill. Chain Hill is also known as the B4494 and is signposted to Newbury.

At the crest of the hill, there is a small community amid copses of beech, fir and chestnut and a reservoir which taps into the chalk water beds and supplies water to Wantage. Apart from this, most of Chain Hill is wide undulating crop plains made up of large fields descending from the ridgeway. At the bottom slopes of Chain Hill is a cemetery and then at the bottom of this, is Ormond Road and former St. Mary's School.

Kingston Lisle

Kingston Lisle is a village and civil parish in the Vale of White Horse, England, about 4 1⁄2 miles (7 km) west of Wantage and 5 miles (8 km) south-southeast of Faringdon. The parish includes the hamlet of Fawler, about 1⁄2 mile (800 m) west of Kingston Lisle village. The 2011 Census recorded the parish population as 225.Kingston Lisle was part of Berkshire until the 1974 local government boundary changes transferred the Vale of White Horse to Oxfordshire.

Leslie Grinsell

Leslie Valentine Grinsell (14 February 1907 – 28 February 1995) was an English archaeologist and museum curator. Publishing over twenty books on archaeology during his lifetime, he was renowned as a specialist on the prehistoric barrows of southern England.

Born in London and raised largely in Brighton, Grinsell developed an early interest in archaeology through visits to Brighton Museum. Later working as a bank clerk in London, he embarked on archaeological research in an amateur capacity, visiting prehistoric barrows during his weekends and holidays to record their shape, dimensions, and location. On the basis of his research, he published a range of academic articles and books on barrows during the 1930s, gaining recognition as Britain's foremost expert on the subject. In 1933, he carried out his only archaeological excavation, at the Devil's Humps in Sussex.

During the Second World War he joined the Royal Air Force and served in Egypt, where he acquainted himself with the archaeological remains of Ancient Egyptian society; after the war he published a book on the Egyptian pyramids. On his return to Britain, Grinsell became the treasurer of the Prehistoric Society, a position that he held from 1947 till 1970. Moving to Devizes, in 1949 he entered the archaeological profession as an assistant to Christopher Hawkes and Stuart Piggott at the Victoria County History project. From 1952 to 1972, Grinsell worked as Keeper of Anthropology and Archaeology at Bristol City Museum, during which time he continued his examination of barrows, focusing on those in south-west England. On retirement, he was appointed to the Order of the British Empire and a festschrift was published in his honour.

Over the course of his lifetime, Grinsell examined and catalogued around 10,000 barrows and advanced the archaeological understanding of such monuments. His use of non-excavatory fieldwork influenced much British archaeology in the latter part of his 20th century, while his willingness to pay attention to other sources of information, such as folklore and place-names, has been deemed ahead of its time.

List of rocks and stones

The following is a list of rocks and stones around the world.


Sarsen stones are sandstone blocks found in quantity in the United Kingdom on Salisbury Plain and the Marlborough Downs in Wiltshire; in Kent; and in smaller quantities in Berkshire, Essex, Oxfordshire, Dorset and Hampshire. They are the post-glacial remains of a cap of Cenozoic silcrete that once covered much of southern England – a dense, hard rock created from sand bound by a silica cement, making it a kind of silicified sandstone. This is thought to have formed during Neogene to Quaternary weathering by the silicification of Upper Paleocene Lambeth Group sediments, resulting from acid leaching.The word "sarsen" (pronunciation ['sa:sǝn]) is a shortening of "Saracen stone" which arose in the Wiltshire dialect. "Saracen" was a common name for Muslims, and came by extension to be used for anything regarded as non-Christian, whether Muslim, pagan Celtic, or other.

The Ridgeway

The Ridgeway is a ridgeway or ancient trackway described as Britain's oldest road. The section clearly identified as an ancient trackway extends from Wiltshire along the chalk ridge of the Berkshire Downs to the River Thames at the Goring Gap, part of the Icknield Way which ran, not always on the ridge, from Salisbury Plain to East Anglia. The route was adapted and extended as a National Trail, created in 1972. The Ridgeway National Trail follows the ancient Ridgeway from Overton Hill, near Avebury, to Streatley, then follows footpaths and parts of the ancient Icknield Way through the Chiltern Hills to Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire. The National Trail is 87 miles (140 km) long.

Uffington White Horse

The Uffington White Horse is a highly stylised prehistoric hill figure, 110 m (360 ft) long, formed from deep trenches filled with crushed white chalk. The figure is situated on the upper slopes of White Horse Hill in the English civil parish of Uffington (in the ceremonial county of Oxfordshire and historic county of Berkshire), some 10 mi (16 km) east of Swindon, 8 km (5 mi) south of the town of Faringdon and a similar distance west of the town of Wantage; or 2.5 km (1.6 mi) south of Uffington. The hill forms a part of the scarp of the Berkshire Downs and overlooks the Vale of White Horse to the north. The best views of the figure are obtained from the air, or from directly across the Vale, particularly around the villages of Great Coxwell, Longcot and Fernham. The site is owned and managed by the National Trust and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The Guardian stated in 2003 that "for more than 3,000 years, the Uffington White Horse has been jealously guarded as a masterpiece of minimalist art." The Uffington Horse is by far the oldest of the white horse figures in Britain and is of an entirely different design from the others inspired by it.

Vale of White Horse

The Vale of White Horse is a local government district of Oxfordshire in England. South and west of the upper Thames, on its right bank it was long a north-west projection of Berkshire. The area is commonly referred to as the 'Vale of the White Horse' and is crossed by the Ridgeway National Trail in its far south, across the North Wessex Downs AONB at the junction of four counties. The 'White Horse' as a name and emblem features in sports clubs and organisations, but is also emblematic of Kent and appears in lesser known hill figures elsewhere.

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