The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland

The Great Stone Of Stretford, Gorse Hill, Manchester.

The Great Stone of Stretford

The Great Stone of Stretford

SJ8041 9553. At the lodge entrance to Gorse Hill Park on the Chester road (A56), in Stretford, stands the curious ‘Great Stone’. The rectangular-shaped stone, made of millstone grit, is 3 feet high, 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep and the two large holes (slots) in the top are roughly 7 inches deep. Locally called the plague stone it is, in fact, a glacial erratic boulder that was originally deposited at Great Stone Road close by at the last Ice Age – perhaps up to 13,000 years ago.

According to legend and local folklore the holes in the top of the stone were filled with vinegar or holy water, perhaps vinegar in one hole and holy water in the other. Coins given by plague victims were placed in the vinegar to steralise them; the holy water  hopefully cured the victim of the disease. Legend says that the stone was thrown by a Saxon giant called Tarquin who lived in the castle at ‘Castlefield’ in Manchester – the holes being for his finger and thumb. He was apparently killed in a local battle by Sir Lancelot. But other theories suggest that the stone is the base of a Saxon cross or a mile stone for the Roman road leading to their fort at Northwich (Condate).