Object Details

The Goldstone

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Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright for Photograph:

Creative Commons

Location

Street:Old Shoreham Road
Town:Hove
Parish:Hove
Council:Brighton & Hove City Council
County:East Sussex
Postcode:BN3
Location on Google Map
Object setting:Public Park
Access is:Public
Location note:Southern edge of Hove Park, near to main road.
In the AZ book:East Sussex
Page:131
Grid reference:K4
The A-Z books used are A-Z East Sussex and A-Z West Sussex (Editions 1A 2005). Geographers' A-Z Map Company Ltd. Sevenoaks.
OS Reference:TQ287060
Previous location:Just South-East of the present A270/A203 crossroads (moved 1900)

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Makers

Name : Unknown

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General Information

Installation date:1906
Work is:Extant
Owner custodian:Brighton & Hove City Council
Object listing:Not listed
Description:A large stone set on its side in the centre of a ring of 9 smaller stones. The whole is surrounded by a low metal fence.
Iconographical description:Myth states that the stone was thrown to its present position by the Devil when he was excavating Devil's Dyke to let in the sea through the Downs and drown the population of the weald. Further myth states that the stone was used as a place of worship for druids.
Inscription:Small stone plaque in front of the stones:

GOLDSTONE
TOLMEN
OR THE
HOLY STONE OF DRUIDS

Modern white plaque with black raised letters in front of the stones:

Brighton & Hove
At the turn of the 19th. Century this 'Goldstone' was
thought to be a sacred stone of the Druids. This led to
large numbers of people visiting the site and causing
damage to the surrounding farm crops. In the early
1830's Mr. William Marsh Rigden, the landowner,
buried the stone and the smaller surrounding stones to
stop this happening.
The stones lay buried until 29th. September 1900 when
William Hollamby, one of the Hove Commissioners,
discovered their position and had them unearthed.
In 1906 the stones were put on display here in the newly opened Hove Park.

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Classification


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Object Parts

Part 1:Goldstone
     Material:Sandstone/flint conglomerate
     Height (cm):230
     Width (cm):400
     Depth (cm):140

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Object Condition

Overall condition:Good
Risk assessment:No known risk
Condition 1 of type:Surface
     Condition 1: Corrosion, deterioration
     More details:Letters on small stone plaque eroded and almost illegible.
Date of on-site inspection:19/06/2008

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History

History:'The Goldstone
Near Hove stands a very large block of stone called The Goldstone (TQ287060), which gives its name to an area known as Goldstone Bottom as well as the now destroyed Goldstone football stadium. The stone is roughly 13½ feet long, 9 feet high, 5½ feet wide and estimated to weigh about 20 tons. Surrounding this large stone are a group of much smaller stones arranged in a circle around it. These stones and the Goldstone itself are formed of a sandstone/flint conglomerate, but neither the Goldstone or the circle are in their original positions (Toms 1932 p.725). The Goldstone itself once stood to the South-West (TQ285059), just South-East of the present A270/A203 crossroads. In 1833, Farmer Rigden, who held the land as part of Goldstone Farm, decided to remove the stone as visitors were damaging crops when visiting it, so he dug a large hole and buried it (Middleton 1979 p.29. In 1900 however, the stone was found, brought to the surface and re-erected in the same manner that it stood before but 300 yards away, in what is now the corner of Hove Park. The stones currently arranged around The Goldstone came from a spot further north in Hove Park (roughly TQ288066). Around 1828, they were arranged around a pond (Toms 1927 p.532). The group of stones seem to have been arranged standing instead of laying about in a haphazard manner. This group of stones was removed for farming purposes around 1847. Some of the stones were buried in the pond which was filled in at the same time (Toms 1932 p.726). The stones in the pond were exhumed in 1906 and arranged around the Goldstone in its present position. This was done by a Mr. W Hollamby with the help of named Terry who had helped bury the stone in the first place (Martin 1920 p.105). One author suggests that the stones around the Goldstone are formed of stones from no less than two stone circles (Evans 1935 p.60) Such an impressive local feature as the Goldstone in bound to attract folklore. On an 1858 map of Brighton, the stone is named as ''Godstone''. This name may have come about because one side of the stone has the form of a human face. The feature is purely natural, there is no sign of carving (Toms 1932 p.728). As to where the stone came from, folklore also has the answer. The stone was thrown to its present position by the Devil when he was excavating Devil's Dyke to let in the sea through the Downs and drown the population of the weald (Wales 1992 p.63). Finally, the stone is popularly known as the site of a Druidic Gorsedd, but this is probably just modern fancy. A sign next to the Goldstone tells us that it is a ''Tolmen or holy stone of the Druids''! Though it is debatable whether ancient druids use the site, more modern druids certainly have. On the 3rd June 1929, an oak tree was planted near the stone to commemorate the King's recovery, also to commemorate the 1000th night of the Ames Lodge and the 100th chapter of the Brighton & Hove Royal Arch (Ancient Order of Druids). The ceremony and a banquet afterwards was attended by many important figures in Druidism of the time (Holden 12/12) and a plaque was placed nearby to commemorate the occasion (Ashton 1980 p.17)'.
(http://www2.prestel.co.uk/aspen/sussex/stones.html#sites2)

'The Goldstone - Hove
In Hove Park is the famous ''Grey Wether,'' called the ''Goldstone.'' This used to lay in Goldstone Bottom between the railway and the Downs. It's estimated weight was 20 (twenty) tons and it measured 13 foot 6 inches in length, 9 foot high, and 5 foot six inches at it's greatest thickness. It has been labelled ''Tolmen or Holy Stone of the Druids'' and now stands at the south west end of the park. Many years ago, when the land at present occupied by Hove Park and the ground to the south was open downland, the Goldstone stood on the western side of the valley not far south of the Shoreham Road. The first mention of the stone seems to be from the Rev. James Douglass, F.S.A., in a letter dated May, 1818 which is quoted by Dr. Gideon Mantell on page 60 of his Geology of the South-East of England, 1833. This letter is also reffered to in Horsfield's History of Sussex, vol 1, page 166. In 1833 the stone was situated on the then Goldstone Farm owned by one Farmer Rigden who was so annoyed by the visits of the curious and the antiquinarians who visited the site by walking over his fields and ruining some of his crops, he decided to bury the stone. To this end a hole some 16 feet deep was made next to the stone and it was then dragged into the hole and covered over at great expense and labour. The Goldstone lay undisturbed for 67 years with only the stories to keep it alive. Then on 29th September, 1900, Mr William Hollamby, an old Hove Commissioner, managed to locate the whereabouts of the site and had it uncovered to gaze upon the light of day once more. Once removed from it's grave it stayed there until 1906 when it was conveyed to a new spot some 300 yards from its original place to the southern centre of today's Hove Park, just north of the Shoreham Road. It was surrounded by a group of smaller stones which came from the northern end of Goldstone Bottom near a small pond level with the Goldstone Waterworks. The Goldstone itself was entirely solitary when in it's original position with no other stones in the immediate vicinity before it was 'Dressed up' for display in 1906. The smaller gropu of stones were removed for 'farming purposes', about 1847, the stones then being rolled into the pond and covered with mould and turf. The site and the surrounding area was later ploughed and crops were sown over the site. It was Mr Hollamby who also discovered the obliterated pond and had the stones unearthed once more and they were conveyed to the southern end to accompany the Goldstone. No accurate records exist telling the number or position of the northern group of stones. In the 'Handbook of Brighton', 1847, W. and C. Fleet mention ''nine singularly shaped stones,'' but their drawing by 'Nibbs' shows only six. That there were more than nine is suggested by the remark of J. A. Erredge (History of Brighthelmston, 1862, p.188), that some of the Goldstone Bottom boulders were used to form the basement of the Victoria Fountain in the Old Steine, Brighton. The Rev. James Douglass was pretty positive that the stones formed an ancient stone circle. W. and C. Fleet say that the stones ''all lie within the circumference of a hundred yards and have therefore a manifest connection with each other.'' As described in ''Sarsens in Sussex,'' these great stones, of hard sandstone or of sandstone and flint conglomerate, are the harder portions of ancient geological strata which once capped part of the Downs. They occur not only in the debris of the old land surface which now fills the base of our valleys, but under deep soil in higher regions. When exposed by the plough they proved dangerous obstacles in the way of farming, and were consequently dragged away to some piece of waste land, such as the immediate neighbourhood of a pond. This is one possibility of the so called stone formation. It must however be conceeded that the stones did indeed resemble portions of the early megalithic groups in other parts of England. So it may well be that the Goldstone Bottom group was ancient, intentionally arranged, and not a mere dumping of stones randomly. So what about the Goldstone half a mile to the south? The Goldstone is labelled a ''tolmen,'' but the word ''tolmen,'' or ''dolmen,'' should now be restricted to large flattish stones (such as the Goldstone) which are supported by two or more upright slabs or blocks to form a table-like structure. There is no record to show that the Goldstone was ever situated this way and indeed it has always been reffered to as an individual stone standing on it's side. There is a drawing by Mr Clem Lambert, of Brighton, which shows a resemblance to a human face when the stone was viewed on a sunny morning standing on the Old Shoreham road. There is also a photograph from the 1930's which shows the same thing (see below). Due to erosion the 'face' has now receeded into the whole and is difficult to make out.
Owing to the lack of Celtic place-names in Sussex, it is imagined that the name which has come down through the centuries is of pure Saxon origin. In this language both ''Gold'' (gield) and ''God'' can be construed as reffering to an idol or god. Take also the inferences that the Goldstone had long been in it's erect position when the Saxon's came; that the Saxon's, too, saw in it the resemblance of a human face and gave it what they considered an appropriate name - ''The God Stone''. The Goldstone itself is a large block of indurated sandstone containing a mass of fairly large flints in it's eastern side, but with only fine broken flint mixed with the greyish sand on the other side. All the boulders surrounding the Goldstone are of very similar sand and flint conglomerate. Whatever the history and superstition behind the stone it stands to this day before all who care to visit it. This stone amongst many others seem to hold a place in our lives whatever your outlook is on these matters. There are no doubt many better and more interesting stones in the Uk but this is one that is fairly unique.
(http://yeoldesussexpages.com/oddities/goldston.htm)

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References


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Photographs





Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

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