The Tibblestone - A Modest Megalith
Updated: Jan 14, 2021
A garage forecourt is not where you'd expect to find a block of ancient history, but there it is – the Tibblestone.
Megalith? More a moderate – lith, this old chap is only around four feet high, but keeps his lonely vigil on a patch of grass next to a busy petrol station between Tewkesbury and Evesham, along the borders of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.
The earliest mention of the Tibblestone is in the Domesday Book, and it's name means Theobald's Stone. This Anglo Saxon personal name is another link in the chain that takes us back some centuries before the Norman conquest. The monument was used as a Hundred Stone, a marker between two stretches of land known as Hundreds. This term meant an area of land that could sustain one hundred families, or sometimes meant that it could yield a hundred fighting men. The free men or ceorls of each Hundred would meet once a month (monath in Old English meaning moon) at the Hundred Stone to settle disputes, mete out justice, and hear the latest news.
Why this stone? Where did it come from? Bronze Age and earlier neolithic monuments are spread across the area from Bredon Hill to the Forest of Dean, and a common practise at one time was to bury cremated ashes in pottery jars in little cemeteries marked by shaped stones. These mini megaliths were sometimes mistaken for what was left of burial chambers, and the Tibblestone fits the bill. Another theory is that it was simply taken from an ancient megalithic site now long lost. Anglo Saxon charters often make mention of barrows and stones now vanished.
Local legend says that a giant grabbed the Tibblestone from the top of nearby Cleeve Hill to throw at a rival across the vale. He slipped and fell, leaving the stone where he dropped it. The curious holes in it's surface were supposedly where his fingers gripped it, bowling ball-like. In reality nobody knows what these pockets are for but they give the monolith an Easter Island style appearance. The stone was last recorded in situ in 1779 before “disappearing” until being rediscovered when the garage owners began extension work on their property. There it lay, on it's side in long grass. The Tibblestone was carefully hoisted back up to a standing position and there it has stood since.
While kingdoms rise and fall and nature takes what is hers, these ancient monuments stand silently forever.
I can't help but think in this picture the stone is crying out to be moved from this spot!