Sacred Sites: Hellstone, Dorset

Hellstone dolmen, Dorset

Where: 50° 40’ 40.82” N, 2° 33’ 32.82” W; OS ref SY605867, sheet 194.

What: Hellstone, also known as the Stone of the Dead, formed the entrance to a chambered Neolithic long barrow. It collapsed and was restored in 1886, and is unlikely to be in its original shape and position. Inside is a space big enough to squeeze in three people.

What makes it special: Hellstone is the only known complete dolmen in Dorset and consists, in its present form, of nine upright stones topped with a single capstone.

Access: It is sited on Portisham Hill, a mile or so from the Hardy Monument, but is quite hard to find and is not signposted on any of the local paths.

Miscellany: Dorset historian Rev. John Hutchins wrote: “The common people call it Hell stone and have a tradition that the devil flung it from Portland Pike, a north point of that island full in view, as he was diverting himself at quoits.” However, the site’s name is more likely to come from the Saxon word helian, to cover or to conceal.

Image: shutterstock.com