Standing Stone (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – TM 052 809
This slab of sandstone apparently used to stand upright in one of the fields of Oxfootstone Farm and on its surface is supposed to be the burnt impression of a cow’s hoof-print. Legend tells that there was a fairy cow which would come into the area when times of hardship occurred. During such periods she would freely give her milk to the people, but when the drought was over she stamped down on the stone upon which she stood, burning the imprint of her hoof onto it and magically vanished back from whence she came. A variation of the tale tells of a normal cow whose milk normally supplied the local villagers. But one night a drunken man (in another tale it is a witch) milked the cow dry through a sieve, until only blood came from her udders. At this point, the cow cried out in pain and kicked the stone so hard that she left the mark of her hoof-print on it.
Another tale tells that an ox got a large thorn stuck in its foot and rampaged through the local village, eventually stamping its hoof onto the stone so hard that it left the imprint of its foot here.
Now this might sound presumptious of me — but this tale has all the hallmarks of it being an old folk-remnant telling the origin of some cup-and-ring marked stone. We find a number of cup-and-rings with creation tales similar to this. Are there any local archaeologists or enthusiasts in Norfolk who might be able to locate any remains of this possible carved stone?
- Burgess, Michael W., The Standing Stones of Norfolk and Suffolk, ESNA 1: Lowestoft 1978.
- Dutt, W.A., The Ancient Mark-Stones of East Anglia, Flood & Sons: Lowestoft, 1926.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian