The Whetstones, Churchstoke, Montgomeryshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SO 303 976

Archaeology & History

Although geographically closer to the village of Priest Weston, this site — when still in existence — was in the parish of Churchstoke.  To be found a half-mile west of White Grit (near the famous Mitchell’s Fold megalithic ring and standing very close to the local boundary line), the Welsh Royal Commision report (1911) told that its position was, “at the foot of the northern slope of Corndon Hill, and close to a stile on the south side of the road near the turning to Cliffdale Mine.” Found close to a number of other prehistoric remains, the Report told:

“It is certain that at this place there once stood a circle of eight or nine stones.  An intelligent man, named John Jones, aged 74 years and a resident in the vicinity since his youth, remembers four stones arranged as though forming parts of a circle, with an appendage in a curve “like a hook.”  About 100 yards distant was a cairn, the foundation of which is still discernible.  The land was then unenclosed, but on its enclosure the cairn and the circle were rifled to provide stone for the construction of the existing fence.  Mr Jones pointed out the four stones which had been members of the circle.  The Rev. C. Hartshorne’s account of this circle in Salopia Antiqua, 1841, p.33, gives a slightly different account of the stones.  He observes, “these three stones (the Whetstones) were formerly placed upright though they now lean, owing to the soft and boggy nature of the soil.  The stand equidistant and assume a circcular position… The highest of these is four feet above the surface; 1 foot 6 inches in thickness; and 3 feet in width.”

When the Royal Commission lads got round to examining the remains here, they reported that,

“Only one stone is now to be found, embedded in the ground close to the stile entering the field, and this is so small that it is not likely to have formed one of the stones of the circle, or it must be a mere fragment of a larger mass.”

However, from the air, a very distinct circle is clearly visible, showing that something was here in bygone times.  In all likelihood, there’s gonna be something just beneath the surface here to tell us more about whatever once stood here.


  1. Crawford, O.G.S., The Long Barrows of the Cotswolds, John Bellows: Gloucester 1925.
  2. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Wales, County of Montgomery, HMSO: London 1911.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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