The Devil’s Ring & Finger
Holed megaliths are a rarity in any part of the world, and here's a lesser-known one lying hidden away on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border.
These two stones are known as The Devil's Ring and Finger but while they are probably Neolithic in age there is no archaeological concensus as to what they were once part of. They might have been in a stone circle, part of a chambered tomb or even a unique structure as yet unidentified.
They are now part of a ruined stone wall so they might have been moved from their original location but those deeply eroded channels on the "finger" suggest they've been here for a good few centuries now.
Holed standing stones are traditionally associated with having magical powers, particularly healing, but while places like Men-an-Tol in Cornwall and the King and Queen Stones on Bredon Hill have definite traditions where local people would crawl through the hole to heal ailments, or pass infants through to ensure good health, there is no such folklore here. Perhaps the name given to the site is a clue to this being a place of ill favour? A place to be avoided for some reason? I crawled through the holed stone anyway so we'll see!
The hole often represents a portal between worlds, a liminal place, so in any case this must have been a place of power at one time. Standing as they are today, it's also plain that there is a male/female union suggested by their shapes and position, I wonder if this was always the intention?
At the centre of Norton Hales, the nearest village, lies another mysterious stone supported by three others. Known as the Bradling Stone, nobody has a clue where it came from but apparently, some time ago, it was the rule that anybody working after midday on Shrove Tuesday would be dragged to the stone, where a raucous crowd would give them "the bumps" while bashing the poor fellow's back on the stone itself!
I take a good look at some of our lost and hidden stones in my book The Mystery Of Mercia II, available now.