The Hanging Stone.

There are many legends connected with this rocky outcropping which is called the Hanging Stone and can be found about a mile W.N.W of Ludchurch and at the DaneBridge end of the Roaches in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

In 1708 Thomas Loxdale  the antiquarian Vicar of Leek visited the Hanging Stone and afterwards sent a letter to his Bishop describing it as follows : “It consists of two flat stones, laid table-wise upon the brow of a precipice, resting (as plainly can be seen), upon other large ones that lie near the centre, from which supporters shoot out, perhaps seven or eight feet to the south, being elevated, at the extremity, above the surface of the declining hill, some thirty feet. The other part must be proportionally large to balance the immense weight of this overhanging end, and prevent its slipping down the bank. I imagine it to be much larger (tho’ I had no opportunity to examine it, it being covered with earth), and that this has drawn it a little from off its first horizontal place. Its being in part covered is owing to the nature of the adjacent earth, which is black, oozy, peat soil. This, instead of being washed and worn away by wind and rain, as better land that lies high is observed to do, swells, and grows higher, as may be seen in the peat pits so common in this country. The neighbours look upon all these to remain in the same condition they were left in by the Flood; and as to most of them they are no doubt in the right; but, that these are so I cannot agree, because the bulk, shape and position are exactly the same; the levels and sqaures the same; all of which, in my opinion, bespeak a design, such regularity being rarely seen in works of chance.”

The Vicar then goes on to theorise that the Hanging Stone is an artificial structure which could possibly be a “Charemluach” which was known in ancient times as devoted stones or hill altars on which sacrifices used to take place.

In the past a number of gold, silver and copper coins were discovered by a Forester who worked for Sir Philip Brocklehurst and whose land the Hanging stone sits upon. Apparently the Forester was preparing holes to plant trees when he unearthed a Cannon mint piece which had been forged from an old cannon and was valued at 30d, the other coins were dated to the time of the civil war between York and Lancaster, the gold coin which was unearthed came from a much earlier period.

There is a story which relates to Bonnie Prince Charlie spending the night at Rock Hall cottage which is located at the far end of the Roaches close to Hen Cloud, however I doubt that there is any truth to this as at the time it would have just been a cave. Sir Philip Brocklehurst had Rock Hall cottage built as a hunting lodge a long time after Bonnie Prince Charlie and his troops passed through this area. It is more likely that Bonnie Prince Charlie spent the night in Royal Cottage some distance away.

Sir Philip Brocklehurst also left his mark upon the Hanging Stone in the form of two plaques, one is in memory of the Royal Hussars and the other is in memory of his favourite Mastiff dog Burke who was buried here in 1871. Apparently his name came from one half of the infamous duo Burke and Hare, as like them he was skilled in taking life, being an excellent hunting dog. There was at one time a full size oil painting of the dog at Swythamley Hall, whether or not it still resides there I am not sure.

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