The story that King Alfred blew through the stone to call his troops to fight the Danes is likely to be a myth. Nevertheless, the Blowing Stone has gained some notoriety and attracts many tourists to try to create a warlike tone. It’s also provided the name for our local inn.
It has been described by Brentnall as “a block of brown sarsen perforated by many of those cavities which are left by vanished roots, and by one in particular from which expert lips may extract a gloomy, booming note.” Sarsen stones are a post-glacial, dense, hard rock created from sand bound by a silica cement, making it a kind of silicified sandstone.
It is believed that the stone was brought down from the Ridgeway by the Atkins family who owned the Kingstone Lisle estate from 1749 to 1907. James Sowerby records in 1811 that “ the Blowing- Stone was placed near the foot of a little public house, to which it gives its name”.
The Blowing Stone was also mentioned by local author Thomas Hughes in “Tom Brown’s School Days” as “ some three feet and a half high, perforated with two or three queer holes, like petrified antediluvian ratholes”. The Pub landlord, at Hughes’ request managed to produce “a gruesome sound between a moan and a roar which spread away over the valley, and up the hillside and into the woods at the back of the house, a ghost-like awful voice!”
It is said that no special knack is needed to create a sound from the Blowing Stone; simply close the hole completely with the mouth and blow!