Harold's Stones
Standing Stones
Nearest town: Raglan
Nearest village: Trellech
Map reference: SO 499051

Harold's Stones Image Three tall leaning stones set in a 12m (39ft) line form one of the very few alignments in south-east Wales

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The village of Trellech takes its name (tri=three, llech=flat stone) from the three tall stones set in a field close to the Monmouth-to-Chepstow road, standing in a line 12m (39ft) long. They are locally known as Harold's Stones, supposedly erected by Harold, last of the Saxon kings, in commemoration of a victory over the Britons in 1063. Of course, Harold's Stones were erected many centuries before him. Another tradition says that the three stones mark the spot on which three chieftains fell in battle with the Roman Harold, who defeated the Welsh in Gwent. According to another legend, these stones were flung or thrown from Ysgyryd Fawr (Skirrid mountain), 23km (14mi) away, by the mythical giant Jack O'Kent.
    The first reference to these stones dates back to 1689, when Edward Llwyd mentioned them in Parochialia. In the same year Harold's Stones were carved on a remarkable sundial, now in Trellech's St Nicholas church. The sundial also bears some mysterious numbers: 7, 10, 14, which may be the stones' former heights in feet. Today Harold's Stones measure 2.7m (9ft), 3.7m (12ft) and 4.6m (15ft).
    The alignment runs NE-SW and it is one of the very few in this part of Wales. The stones, formed of a concretion of siliceous pebbles in a calcareous bed known as puddingstone, lean at different angles. The largest stone is also the southernmost and the central one has two large cup marks on its south side which looked towards the midwinter sunset. The purpose of Harold's Stones is still unknown; they probably date from the Middle to Late Neolithic.

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