Four Shire Stone

Occasionally we receive requests for information or advice from members of the public. We always respond, and usually beneficially to those that have asked a question. On this occasion the question was emailed to all members of WGCG. The question an our response are shown below.


Hello. I have been involved in the recent restoration of the Four Shire Stone

It is Listed by Historic England, who date it “mid to late C18”. No-one exactly knows when it was erected or by whom. I have searched local archives for clues, but with no success.

The stonemason who carried out the stonework, when asked where he thought which quarry he thought the stone for the monument came from said “The only certainty about the quarry is that I couldn’t say with any certainty which one it was! It’s likely that in the 1740’s there were deep ‘freestone’ quarries working that have been used as dumps, once unprofitable and there may just be only a few marks on old maps to indicate where they were. But the stone wouldn’t have travelled far on a horse and cart! There are quarries at the top of the hill towards Chipping Norton on either side of the road and above Little Compton. I’d be surprised if there weren’t a few at Aston Magna, Batsford, Sezincote and Longborough too. Later repairs used stone from Jimmy Strange’s quarry on Westington Hill, nr. Chipping Campden and the Guiting Quarry at the top of Stanway Hill. Sorry I can’t be more specific than Jurassic Oolitic!”

I am making contact with you because I wonder if it would be possible to identify the quarries active at the time which might have supplied the stone, and then to see if any trading or other records survive which might provide clues.

The answer must be out there somewhere!



Please see attached images and my following notes.

The Four Shires Stone is not located on the Jurassic Oolite outcrop – this is some 3 miles away in both directions, and older rocks occur in the valley. So the quarrying site has to be at least 3 miles away. The cost of transporting stone was still high in the 1700s so the quarry site is likely to have been as close as possible to the location of the stone pillar.

The first OS maps were published in the 1840s but the earliest OS map for this area is 1884. A cursory glance at the local 1884 OS maps around the Four Shires Stone indicates there were several working quarries at this time. All these maps can be viewed free of charge at the following site.,-1.60750&i=102346744

There should be county records of active quarries through the 1800s and possibly earlier. The gravel pits shown on the 1884 map of the area around the Four Shires Stone cannot be the source of the stone because these are workings for glacial alluvium rather than Jurassic oolite.

The oolites of the northern Cotswolds occur at two discrete stratigraphic horizons. Analysis of the Four Shires Stone might be able to ascertain which of these units the stone was sourced from which would constrain the likely site of extraction further.

Kind regards