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Forest of Dean


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6 May 2014

Staunton Meend

Grid Ref SO543123



Staunton Meend is an area of heathland up to 20 hectares where there are free-roaming Exmoor ponies. They are secured on the site with cattle grids, wire fencing, hedging and dry stone walling. These all need to be regularly checked and maintained to prevent the ponies from invading the fields outside the site. Exmoor ponies are ideal for keeping the heathland in a good condition.

We were asked to help re-build a couple of sections of the dry stone walling which were crumbling. We also had a good look at the Buckstone and the magnificent view across the Welsh hills.





The image on the left shows a section of the wall as it was being dismantled.

The image on the right shows the same section after we had re-built it.











Half of the team went to re-build a wall further down the hill





There was a large tree which had fallen rocks from the wall allowing the agile ponies to climb over and access the lush green grass yonder!















The Buckstone

















Staunton, "the place of the stones", was the ancient name given by the Anglo-Saxons. The village has stones of ancient origins and of mysterious forms, these are the Buck, Toad, Broad, Long and Queen Stone, all of which have origins dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages. The Buckstone lies in Highmeadow Woods near the village. The huge rock on the summit of Buckstone Hill is said to have been used in Druid ceremonies, and actually used to rock before it was dislodged in 1885. This point is at 915 feet and one can view panoramic scenery such as views over the Forest of dean, Highmeadow Woods and the Black Mountains

Probably the earliest trace of this locality being inhabited exists in the Druidical rocks which are found on the high lands on the Gloucestershire side of the Wye.  The chief of them is “the Buck Stone,” so called perhaps from the deer which sheltered beneath it, or else from its fancied resemblance to that animal when viewed from certain distant spots.  It is a huge mass of rock poised on the very crest of Staunton Hill, which being of a pyramidal form, and almost 1000 feet high, renders the stone on its summit visible in one direction as far as Ross, nine miles off.  A careful examination of the structure of the rock, and particularly of the character of its base, will show that its position is natural.  But that the Druids had appropriated it to sacrificial purposes, is evident from a rudely hollowed stone which lies adjacent.  In shape “the Buck Stone” is almost flat on the top, and four-sided, the north-east side measuring sixteen feet five inches, the north seventeen feet, the south-west nine feet, and the south side twelve feet.  The face of the rock on which it rests slopes considerably, and the bearing point is only two feet across.  This part may be an unbroken neck of rock, but apparently the entire block has crushed down upon its base, as though, from having once formed the extremity of the portion of cliff near, it had fallen away, and had accidentally balanced itself in its present position. The texture of the Buck is similar to that of the slab of rock on which it rests, commonly known as the old red sandstone conglomerate of quartz pebbles (a stratum of which extends through the whole district), exceedingly hard in most of its veins, but very perishable in others; and hence perhaps the form and origin of this singular object.

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