The Slaughtering Stone

In all matters of archæology it is constantly found that certain

questions are better left in abeyance, or bequeathed to a coming

generation for solution. The Slaughtering Stone appears to be an

admirable example of this class. Just within the area enclosed by the

earthwork circle, lies a prostrate Sarsen Stone, to which this name

has been given. The idea of its having been used as a place of

slaughter for the victim
ntended for sacrifice in the Temple of

Stonehenge, seems to rest upon a very bare foundation. It is probably

a picturesque piece of nomenclature devised by certain bygone

antiquaries to whom Stonehenge was a Druidical monument, and who,

therefore, having the idea of human sacrifice, and wicker figures

prominently before them, naturally jumped at the idea of providing a

slaughtering stone for the numberless human victims whom they imagined

had been slain there. Nevertheless, the stone is curious because of

the row of holes which have been worked across one corner, which

certainly is unshapely, and which would square up the stone very

nicely if it were removed along the line of these holes. The

indentations are somewhat oval, suggesting that they were made by

pecking with a sharp instrument, rather than drilled by a rotating

one, which would make a circular incision. Having recorded this,

however, there is little to add, except that Mr. Gowland, who minutely

examined the stone in 1901, is of opinion that the oval indentations

referred to are more recent than the building of Stonehenge. Had they

been contemporaneous with the erection of the Trilithons, he is

convinced that the action of the water in the holes, combined with

frost, would have caused a very much greater amount of disintegration

than exists to-day. Yet another difficulty arises. At the meeting of

the British Archæological Association at Devizes in 1880, a visit was

paid to Stonehenge, and there were, as usual at such gatherings,

papers and discussions dealing with it. Mr. William Cunnington,

F.S.A., specially put on record the fact that his grandfather, Mr. H.

Cunnington, and Sir R.C. Hoare, remembered this stone as standing

erect. Here at all events are three conflicting statements. Under

these circumstances it is well to leave the Slaughtering Stone as a

problem for posterity.