I stopped off in Enstone today, a small village just a few miles north of Blenheim Palace. I wanted to meet the Old Soldier, the name locals give to the largest of the Neolithic stones that were placed here 4000-6000 thousand years ago.
All that remains of the burial chamber are these few stones but they are mighty impressive nevertheless. Hidden amongst trees, it is easy to pass them by even when you know they are close, despite the Old Soldier being 9ft high.
Our Cotswold landscape must have looked very different when these stones were placed here – and how did they place them with only manpower available? Of course, this is one of the big mysteries of Stonehenge, the world famous stone circle 2 hours drive away. Whereas Stonehenge gathers hundreds of visitors each day, hardly anyone calls in to pay their respects here and it feels a silent and lonely place.
Legend has it
that if you cannot find the stones – and sometimes you can’t – the Old Soldier has gone to the village pub to quench his thirst. One assumes in human form which is a scary thought!
Old Mont lived just a mile from the stones in Fulwell, a tiny hamlet of no more than a dozen houses. The very end cottage, made out of our local, mellow stone was his house, now marked by a ‘blue’ plaque . The local shepherd has become quite a celebrity since his death some years ago: a story teller persuaded to put his tale into a book [Lifting the Latch] and his few possessions into the Woodstock museum. He would find his own fame far more surprising than meeting the Old Soldier down the pub and the hollyhocks flowering by his garden wall far more impressive!