The Longstone at Mottistone
This impressive standing stone and its smaller recumbent companion, are believed to be all that is left of a chambered long barrow from the Neolithic period, the remaining stones once being part of the tomb entrance.
The smaller stone is not in its original position, having been moved by a local landowner looking for treasure. There was a more professional excavation carried out here in 1956, although nothing of great importance was discovered.
The area seems to have been very important to our ancestors, and tradition asserts that the Celts and subsequent invaders used the stone for religious purposes – each utilising the site with their own set of beliefs. The Romans are also thought to have used the site as a temple to Mithras, which involved the slaying of live bulls, although this form of worship was usually conducted in a caves. Another tradition suggests the Celtics sacrificed white bulls here, although evidence for this is scant, as the druids did not record any of their beliefs. The site is thought to have been a meeting place during the Dark Ages, as the nearby village Mottistone – moteres stan – means the speaker’s stone in old English. The Saxons used these places to announce judgements and allow debate on important matters. The site is also associated with a giant and a Devil legend.
There was once a rocking stone nearby, which could not be moved by the hand of a man with a guilty conscience. You can’t help wondering if this bit of folklore had anything to do with the Saxon judgements which took place here. Perhaps – and this is obvious pure speculation – the stone was used to decide innocence, in much the same way as the barbaric trail by ordeal. These rocking stones were also seen as sacred in the distant past, but the intricacies of these beliefs are lost to us.
The stone is still used by modern day pagans; evidence of their activities, in the form of small offerings were noted on our visit, which was close to a festival date.
Directions: Mottistone is reached from the B3399 to the West of Brighstone.