The "Slaughtering Stone"
In all matters of archæology it is constantly found that certain questions are better left in abeyance, or bequeathed to a coming generation for solution. The "Slaughtering Stone" appears to be an admirable example of this class. Just within the area enclosed by the earthwork circle, lies a prostrate Sarsen Stone, to which this name has been given. The idea of its having been used as a place of slaughter for the victim intended for sacrifice in the "Temple" of Stonehenge, seems to rest upon a very bare foundation. It is probably a picturesque piece of nomenclature devised by certain bygone antiquaries to whom Stonehenge was a "Druidical" monument, and who, therefore, having the idea of human sacrifice, and "wicker figures" prominently before them, naturally jumped at the idea of providing a slaughtering stone for the numberless human victims whom they imagined had been slain there. Nevertheless, the stone is curious because of the row of holes which have been worked across one corner, which certainly is unshapely, and which would square up the stone very nicely if it were removed along the line of these holes. The indentations are somewhat oval, suggesting that they were made by "pecking" with a sharp instrument, rather than drilled by a rotating one, which would make a circular incision. Having recorded this, however, there is little to add, except that Mr. Gowland, who minutely examined the stone in 1901, is of opinion that the oval indentations referred to are more recent than the building of Stonehenge. Had they been contemporaneous with the erection of the Trilithons, he is convinced that the action of the water in the holes, combined with frost, would have caused a very much greater amount of disintegration than exists to-day. Yet another difficulty arises. At the meeting of the British Archæological Association at Devizes in 1880, a visit was paid to Stonehenge, and there were, as usual at such gatherings, papers and discussions dealing with it. Mr. William Cunnington, F.S.A., specially put on record the fact that his grandfather, Mr. H. Cunnington, and Sir R.C. Hoare, remembered this stone as standing erect. Here at all events are three conflicting statements. Under these circumstances it is well to leave the Slaughtering Stone as a problem for posterity.