The aptly named “Weald Stone” in Harrow is a rather ancient monument, that is claimed to distinguish a boundary between Harrow and Harrow Weald.
Classified as a sarsen stone, the frequently underestimated landmark now stands outside an Indian restaurant in the center of the district. Though you may only give it a passing glance while walking by, this fascinating (though somewhat crude-looking) structure holds a deep historical significance that cannot be understated.
It’s rumoured that the cairn, in actuality, predates the oldest known recording of its origins from Tudor England, as documented under King Henry VIII. That at a time, it was once swept inland by glaciers during the neolithic age and is rather impressive in size if its monolithic stature were not buried below the earth.
Nevertheless, it is intriguing to ponder upon the many myths that surround this illustrious cairn, some of which are quite high-flown as you’ll come to see.
Common folklore tells a fanciful tale of peculiar departures by night, as is customary of the elusive “wandering stones”. Locals would ruminate upon a mythical journey down to the River Kennet, on which this prehistoric monument would embark, only to mysteriously reappear at the breaking of dawn.
Another theory however, more grounded in reality perhaps, is the idea that this structure would stand as a testament to some chieftain whose burial ground lay somewhere amidst the region of the stone. Or rather, perhaps the stone acted as a guide to travellers, a significant landmark brought in an age that predates the Tudor era.
The enigmatic nature of the monolith cannot be understated when exploring its background, as throughout its recorded history it has made quite a few disappearing acts!
To complement its reputation as a stone with a predilection for a quick stroll, the Weald Stone went missing for a time in 1549 when it was assumed to be buried below the earth or pushed into a nearby runnel as a prank. However, an excavation in 1834 rediscovered the sculpture outside the Red Lion, now Bombay Central, where the stone stands to this day.
In the modern age, however, its importance to the borough is undeniable. Besides the fact that the stone provides substantial backing for the namesake of its district, it’s renowned in the area, its name sung from Torquay to Gateshead, thanks to a semi-professional football team, whilst even appearing on the tube map.
The significance of this sculpture and its debated neolithic origins stands as a testament to the enriching nature of Harrow’s profound history whilst acting as yet another distinctive feature of the borough. It’s quite extraordinary to imagine that a monument that lies in northwest London has such depth as to put it on par with such cairns as Stonehenge, Avebury and Castlerigg.