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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 06:50 GMT
Backyard discovery of ancient stone
The Horestone
The Horestone was first recorded in 1170
An amateur historian has found a lost standing stone in his own "back garden" - 18 months after beginning a search for it.

Stephen Davis and historian friend Clare Forbes used ancient documents to help track down The Horestone near Stroud, Gloucestershire, some 350 years after it was lost.

Mr Davis learned of the stone when he began researching the history of his own house in 1987.

He then started to swap notes with local historian Ms Forbes and this led to the pair agreeing to look for the stone together.

It spoke immediately of lost time and still had all the atmosphere of a pagan shrine

Stephen Davis
The first known reference to the stone was in legal documents dated 1170.

But it is believed to mark a Bronze Age burial site dating back to around 2,500 BC.

The area was declared common land after a law suit was fought over it in the 14th Century.

Its last official recording was in 1636 in a tax record.

The land on which it stands, which is behind Mr Davis' house, was sold off 300 years ago and is now part of a housing estate.

'Astonishing moment'

The two stone-hunters feared the ancient rock on Rodborough Common might have been smashed up or buried to destroy its magical powers.

The Horestone covered in ivy
The stone was overgrown and looked like a stump
Mr Davis said: "We had no reason to believe that we'd actually find it. These things are buried, ploughed over or they just fall over."

They almost missed finding it because it was so overgrown with ivy it looked like a tree stump.

But both said they were glad to find it and "unpick the lock of ancient history around Rodborough".

On uncovering the stone, Mr Davis said: "It's curious to excavate a piece of history. It wasn't just stumbling across it, but just stumbling across it while we were looking for it.

"It was the most astonishing of moments. It spoke immediately of lost time and still had all the atmosphere of a pagan shrine.

"I was certainly not expecting to have such a stunning moment in my own back garden."

English Heritage is now expected to declare the six-feet-high stone a scheduled ancient monument.

See also:

20 Jun 00 | UK
The lure of Stonehenge
01 Sep 99 | Sci/Tech
Woodhenge discovered near Stonehenge
02 Feb 99 | Americas
Reprieve for Miami's ancient circle
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