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The lost stone circle of Hove

The lost stone of Hove recovered
Reproduced courtesy of Royal Pavilion, Libraries & Museums, Brighton & Hove

In lockdown I came across the Goldstone of Hove, a massive 20 ton rock made of sarsen stones (also known as greywethers) formed between 56 and 34 million years ago, on display at the south end of Hove Park by Old Shoreham Road. But this is not its original position and by doing a bit of detecting on the internet I found the intriguing story of how it came to be there.

Intrigue surrounding the stone

It once stood on the other side of Old Shoreham Road, around 300 yards southwest of its current position, just to the east of Sackville Road. This was once an area of natural countryside known as Goldstone Bottom but by the Victorian Age it was farmland. The Goldstone was considered by the Victorians, who were fascinated by the Druids, to be connected with Druid rituals involving human sacrifice. As a result, it attracted large numbers of visitors, tramping across farmland, damaging crops as they passed. In 1834, Farmer Rigden, on whose land it lay, decided he’d had enough of these destructive visitors and he paid two labourers, Churcher and Terry, to dig a very large hole and bury the Goldstone.

The Goldstone recovered

But the story of the Goldstone survived and, as the years passed, complaints about its disappearance grew. In 1898, William Hollamby, a longstanding member of Hove Town Council, sought help from Terry, one of the labourers involved in the original move, to locate the burial site. On 29th September 1900, the Goldstone was dug up and in 1906 placed in its current location in the newly formed Hove Park. It is not clear where this huge relic got its name, but on an 1858 map of Brighton it is called the ‘Godstone’.

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