Tuesday 21 February 2012

Desperately Seeking Sarsens

I spent some time exploring Amesbury, the nearest town to Stonehenge, searching for Sarsen stones used in old buildings. We are always told that the missing Sarsens of Stonehenge were broken up for building or hardcore. I have not found any Sarsens used on the farms around Stonehenge as they are in the Pewsey Vale and on the Marlborough Downs.

This Google Street-view map allows you to "walk" the streets of Amesbury from the comfort of your chair!

View Larger Map

Hair By Joanna is in The Old Post Office which is reputed to have a Bluestone slab. I presume it is the large stone threshold which is blueish. It isn't a "Bluestone" though, just a type of slate I think.

The Antrobus Arms is said to have four Sarsen steps. (Click any photo to expand it)

No, not Sarsen.

There are many walls in Amesbury made of odd stones and flints. Much of the Church is as well.

I've looked all round the Church's sure foundations, I have scoured the walls on roads and carparks, I can't spot any Sarsen.

If the Sarsens of Stonehenge were broken up for building stone then the stones are well hidden. If you know for any please tell me. And if the broken stones are not to be found it supports the idea that maybe the missing stones never were there and the circle was never completed.


  1. Tim. Are we sure the one at Jo's Hairdressers isn't inside? I was always of the opinion that it was "in the foundations." Is there a cellar you can barge your way into?
    David Field recently had a look at Gay's Cave in the grounds of Amesbury Abbey. The grotto is, in his opinion, made of sarsen stone. We'll be digging soon, so aim to pay it a visit. It's on EH's At Risk register after some vandalism of the iron gates that block access.

    1. Being that Stonehenge once fell into the ownership of the abbey at one time, any missing stones might have logically ended up there, or in the foundations of the abbey. Can you go and do a reccy of the old folks home? Tell them your wife is throwing you out! LoL - Dan

    2. I thought of getting my hair cut by Joanna but that is a sacrifice too far. The threshold stone looks quite blue when I saw it in the damp so I guess that is the fabled one, but if there is another one let's find it.

      The present Abbey which is the old folks home (rates from £850 a week) isn't the original one. The Parish Church probably is the remaining bit of the original one.

  2. LoL So, it wasn't build on the foundations of the original? I was hoping there would be a large vaulted cellar under the present abbey, full of sarsen!

  3. Hello there, I work for a charity which owns some land in Shrewton, very near stonehenge. I believed the land was once water meadows,and where a previous river channel enters our land there are at least two large blocks of what looks like sandstone - mostly buried in the grass.
    If you think this could be what you are looking for? Do you have an identification tips?

    1. Hi Thanks that is interesting. I would love to have a look at them. There are some other sarsens in Shrewton I am told.
      As for identifying them I haven't got a good guide, but a sandstone texture that is extremely hard, much harder than Bath Stone for instance, is a good indication.

    2. The stones are at SU 063 447. They are not obvious, so if you let me know when you are coming I'll show you to them.

    3. Many thanks - I know the field you mean - could you email me your contact details - I'm tim.daw at gmail.com.



    4. I was driving past on Saturday and called in on the off chance - there is at least one sarsen in the small ring by the stables, the others aren't I don't think. No one was around so I didn't look further.