Stonehenge Riverside Project: 2007 Excavation IV

The Cuckoo Stone

The Cuckoo Stone

About 500m west of Woodhenge is the Cuckoo Stone, a squat sarsen boulder which lies on its side. A large trench was excavated around it to reveal the hole, immediately to its west, in which the stone originally sat. The shape of the hole closely matches that of the stone when recumbent and, as with the nearby Bulford standing stone excavated in 2005, it seems most likely that the Cuckoo Stone lay in this position as a natural feature before it was set on end as a standing stone.

Before the Cuckoo Stone was erected, it was removed from the solution hollow which had formed beneath it. A posthole was then dug into the base of the solution hollow. Finally, the stone was set vertically within the hole, replacing the wooden post. Unfortunately there was no dating evidence for this construction sequence but prehistoric features in its close vicinity suggest that this happened before 2000 BC.

West of the Cuckoo Stone there were two Neolithic pits. The most westerly contained pottery, animal bones and struck flints dating to the fourth millennium BC. The other contained antlers and animal bones and probably dates to the third millennium BC.

Around 2000 BC the Cuckoo Stone became a focus for burial; to its south there was a north-south line of three urned cremation burials consisting of an inverted Enlarged Food Vessel and two upright Collared Urns.

The Cuckoo Stone was later the focus for Roman pits and a rectangular Roman building with a slightly sunken floor. Pottery in these features and 15 Roman coins from the ploughsoil date this activity to the third and fourth centuries AD. The building, southwest of the Cuckoo Stone, was supported by north-south lines of postholes along its east and west sides and was most probably a small rural shrine.

The Cuckoo Stone compares well with the Tor Stone at Bulford, about a mile east of the River Avon. In 2005 excavations demonstrated that this stone was similarly associated with an Early Bronze Age cremation burial – in this case a double Food Vessel burial. It too had been raised from its natural recumbent position which was visible as a solution hollow.