Sarsen stones on Fyfield Down
Fyfield Down shown within Wiltshire
|OS grid reference|
Fyfield Down (grid reference ) is part of the Marlborough Downs, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of the village of Fyfield, Wiltshire. The down is a 325.3 hectare biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest, notified in 1951. The down has the best assemblage of sarsen stones in England, known as the Grey Wethers.
The site is to be distinguished from another Fyfield Down also in Wiltshire, east of Pewsey and on the edge of Salisbury Plain, near another place called Fyfield. The two places are only about 9 miles (14 km) apart.
The Grey Wethers
The down has the best assemblage of sarsen stones in England. The stones are known here as the Grey Wethers, for their likeness to sheep when seen from a distance. They were noted by Col. Richard Symonds in his diary for 1644: "They call that place the Grey-wethers, because a far off they looke like a flock of sheepe." They support a nationally important lichen flora. An alternative name for this natural rock feature is Mother's Jam.
On the west side of the down (grid reference ) is a recumbent sarsen stone with grooved markings. It is thought to be a prehistoric grinding bench for shaping, whetting, and polishing stone axe-heads, and is similar to other Neolithic and Bronze Age examples in France.
The Devil's Den
- English Nature citation sheet for the site (accessed 21 August 2006)