In part five, we learned all that the local archives could tell us about the Landywood Great Stones (not much). Now it was time to firmly locate two of them.
How Big Were the Landywood Great Stones?
Nowhere in the history books had the actual size of the Landywood Great Stones been mentioned. Their name implies something magnificent. Homeshaw and Sambrook had called them a 'temple of the Druids'.
Cllr Williams had asked around and duly informed me, "We're not talking small here. These were big, massive things." But she also counselled that this was hearsay. She had never seen them for herself, other than the existing stone beside Landywood Enterprise Park. This, she had been told, was one of the smaller stones.
Most people would be forgiven for imagining something on the scale of Stonehenge by now. But we had evidence. We had a photograph and we had a stone that was in that photograph. It would be a simple case of matching up the two, then getting out the tape measure. The rest could be extrapolated from that.
Rejoice in my amazing Paint skills!
Then note that the red lines are meant to indicate a circumference.
Historical Research: Not Like Indiana Jones
Of course, I chose to do this during the school run, thus attracting the attention of several parents walking down to Landywood Primary School, just around the corner. A short pause and then I had another audience of parents AND their young off-spring.
Conscious of my onlookers, I tried to make my historical research look as much like Indiana Jones as possible. Which was a bit hard, when I was using a tape measure in the shape of a bubble bee. I did answer several questions about the megalithic period and hoped my answers were pitched at the right level. I also pointed out the shape of Holly Lane to a few interested youngsters and parents. While reassuring one anxious father that I really wasn't from the council and no, I wasn't doing this with a view to removing the stone.
Landywood Great Stones: Enter Merlin
I had deep suspicions before even arriving that this purportedly small stone was actually one of the larger stones in the black and white photograph.
Now I was there, I was sure; but I also thought that the stone was now upside down. I needed the right camera angle to work this out. So I was lying flat on my back on a manhole cover, with my knees akimbo and a camera poking through the gap, shooting great images like this:
When a voice piped up, "Now I know what I look like, when I'm taking pictures of trees and rocks and the like."
I felt that some explanation was clearly needed, so I started on the speil that I'd practiced on all of those little children. I indicated the notebook lap-top lying beside me on the ground, with the 1951 photograph showing the Landywood Great Stones.
"I know," said Steve, "I've got the book. It's that one." He pointed to the stone that I'd been looking at all along. It turned out that Steve had lived in Great Wyrley all of his life. He could remember when the Tower View council estate didn't exist and when schoolboys had done cross country running over Broom Hill. "But this used to be the base." He encircled the stone and patted one of the surfaces. In this photograph, this original base is now on the right-hand side, bowling slightly inwards.
I was jubiliant! That was precisely the angle that I'd determined to be the bottom! The stone was upside down, but it was definitely the one in the photograph. "They used to be where the junction of Poplar Road and Gorsey Lane is now."
Then Steve added, "You know that there's another of the stones under the hedge over there, don't you?"
The Second Landywood Great Stone is Found
To be honest, I did kind of know. I'd found it on that first meander around the lane and thought it quite precisely placed for just a random stone. However, I was still under the impression that I was looking for something awe-inspiring in its megalithic majesty, like a poor person's Stonehenge. So I'd snapped a couple of pictures for later consideration, then promptly forgotten about it.
Now that I knew the true size of the stones, I had no doubt that Steve was correct.
The Position of the Landywood Great Stones
Poplar Road/Gorsey Lane junction, Great Wyrley. The grass verge still arches around where the Landywood Great Stones once stood during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
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Steve suspected that the builders were asked not to construct anything on that spot, as it was believed that the stones would be replaced. But once the houses were built, a decision was taken not to put them back. Instead they were scattered into their current positions.
So far that definitely includes two back in Holly Lane and the rest carted onto the Streets Lane estate. It was looking increasingly likely that they were those in a ditch opposite Chillington Close.